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      Liquid crystal phases of two-dimensional dipolar gases and Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless melting

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          Abstract

          Liquid crystals are phases of matter intermediate between crystals and liquids. Whereas classical liquid crystals have been known for a long time and are used in electro-optical displays, much less is known about their quantum counterparts. There is growing evidence that quantum liquid crystals play a central role in many electron systems including high temperature superconductors, but a quantitative understanding is lacking due to disorder and other complications. Here, we analyse the quantum phase diagram of a two-dimensional dipolar gas, which exhibits stripe, nematic and supersolid phases. We calculate the stiffness constants determining the stability of the nematic and stripe phases, and the melting of the stripes set by the proliferation of topological defects is analysed microscopically. Our results for the critical temperatures of these phases demonstrate that a controlled study of the interplay between quantum liquid and superfluid phases is within experimental reach for the first time, using dipolar gases.

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          Most cited references 26

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          A High Phase-Space-Density Gas of Polar Molecules

          A quantum gas of ultracold polar molecules, with long-range and anisotropic interactions, would not only enable explorations of a large class of many-body physics phenomena, but could also be used for quantum information processing. We report on the creation of an ultracold dense gas of 40K87Rb polar molecules. Using a single step of STIRAP (STImulated Raman Adiabatic Passage) via two-frequency laser irradiation, we coherently transfer extremely weakly bound KRb molecules to the rovibrational ground state of either the triplet or the singlet electronic ground molecular potential. The polar molecular gas has a peak density of 10^12 cm^-3, and an expansion-determined translational temperature of 350 nK. The polar molecules have a permanent electric dipole moment, which we measure via Stark spectroscopy to be 0.052(2) Debye for the triplet rovibrational ground state and 0.566(17) Debye for the singlet rovibrational ground state. (1 Debye= 3.336*10^-30 C m)
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            Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless crossover in a trapped atomic gas.

            Any state of matter is classified according to its order, and the type of order that a physical system can possess is profoundly affected by its dimensionality. Conventional long-range order, as in a ferromagnet or a crystal, is common in three-dimensional systems at low temperature. However, in two-dimensional systems with a continuous symmetry, true long-range order is destroyed by thermal fluctuations at any finite temperature. Consequently, for the case of identical bosons, a uniform two-dimensional fluid cannot undergo Bose-Einstein condensation, in contrast to the three-dimensional case. However, the two-dimensional system can form a 'quasi-condensate' and become superfluid below a finite critical temperature. The Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless (BKT) theory associates this phase transition with the emergence of a topological order, resulting from the pairing of vortices with opposite circulation. Above the critical temperature, proliferation of unbound vortices is expected. Here we report the observation of a BKT-type crossover in a trapped quantum degenerate gas of rubidium atoms. Using a matter wave heterodyning technique, we observe both the long-wavelength fluctuations of the quasi-condensate phase and the free vortices. At low temperatures, the gas is quasi-coherent on the length scale set by the system size. As the temperature is increased, the loss of long-range coherence coincides with the onset of proliferation of free vortices. Our results provide direct experimental evidence for the microscopic mechanism underlying the BKT theory, and raise new questions regarding coherence and superfluidity in mesoscopic systems.
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              Quantum-state controlled chemical reactions of ultracold potassium-rubidium molecules.

               J. Ye,  D. Jin,  S Ospelkaus (2010)
              How does a chemical reaction proceed at ultralow temperatures? Can simple quantum mechanical rules such as quantum statistics, single partial-wave scattering, and quantum threshold laws provide a clear understanding of the molecular reactivity under a vanishing collision energy? Starting with an optically trapped near-quantum-degenerate gas of polar 40K87Rb molecules prepared in their absolute ground state, we report experimental evidence for exothermic atom-exchange chemical reactions. When these fermionic molecules were prepared in a single quantum state at a temperature of a few hundred nanokelvin, we observed p-wave-dominated quantum threshold collisions arising from tunneling through an angular momentum barrier followed by a short-range chemical reaction with a probability near unity. When these molecules were prepared in two different internal states or when molecules and atoms were brought together, the reaction rates were enhanced by a factor of 10 to 100 as a result of s-wave scattering, which does not have a centrifugal barrier. The measured rates agree with predicted universal loss rates related to the two-body van der Waals length.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                1509.02679
                10.1038/srep19038
                26750156
                4707468

                http://arxiv.org/licenses/nonexclusive-distrib/1.0/

                Quantum gases & Cold atoms

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