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      Traveling Majorana solitons in a one-dimensional spin-orbit coupled Fermi superfluid

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          Abstract

          We investigate traveling solitons of a one-dimensional spin-orbit coupled Fermi superfluid in both topologically trivial and non-trivial regimes by solving the static and time-dependent Bogoliubov-de Gennes equations. We find a critical velocity \(v_{h}\) for traveling solitons that is much smaller than the value predicted using the Landau criterion due to the presence of spin-orbit coupling, which strongly upshifts the energy level of the soliton-induced Andreev bound states towards the quasi-particle scattering continuum. Above \(v_{h}\), our time-dependent simulations in harmonic traps indicate that traveling solitons decay by radiating sound waves. In the topological phase, we predict the existence of peculiar Majorana solitons, which host two Majorana fermions and feature a phase jump of \(\pi\) across the soliton, irrespective of the velocity of travel. These unusual properties of Majorana solitons may open an alternative way to manipulate Majorana fermions for fault-tolerant topological quantum computations.

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          Majorana returns

           Frank Wilczek (2009)
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            Spin-Imbalance in a One-Dimensional Fermi Gas

            Superconductivity and magnetism generally do not coexist. Changing the relative number of up and down spin electrons disrupts the basic mechanism of superconductivity, where atoms of opposite momentum and spin form Cooper pairs. Nearly forty years ago Fulde and Ferrell and Larkin and Ovchinnikov proposed an exotic pairing mechanism (FFLO) where magnetism is accommodated by formation of pairs with finite momentum. Despite intense theoretical and experimental efforts, however, polarized superconductivity remains largely elusive. Here we report experimental measurements of density profiles of a two spin mixture of ultracold 6Li atoms trapped in an array of one dimensional (1D) tubes, a system analogous to electrons in 1D wires. At finite spin imbalance, the system phase separates with an inverted phase profile in comparison to the three-dimensional case. In 1D we find a partially polarized core surrounded by wings composed of either a completely paired BCS superfluid or a fully polarized Fermi gas, depending on the degree of polarization. Our observations are in quantitative agreement with theoretical calculations in which the partially polarized phase is found to be a 1D analogue of the FFLO state. This study demonstrates how ultracold atomic gases in 1D may be used to create non-trivial new phases of matter, and also paves the way for direct observation and further study of the FFLO phase.
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              Heavy Solitons in a Fermionic Superfluid

              Topological excitations are found throughout nature, in proteins and DNA, as dislocations in crystals, as vortices and solitons in superfluids and superconductors, and generally in the wake of symmetry-breaking phase transitions. In fermionic systems, topological defects may provide bound states for fermions that often play a crucial role for the system's transport properties. Famous examples are Andreev bound states inside vortex cores, fractionally charged solitons in relativistic quantum field theory, and the spinless charged solitons responsible for the high conductivity of polymers. However, the free motion of topological defects in electronic systems is hindered by pinning at impurities. Here we create long-lived solitons in a strongly interacting fermionic superfluid by imprinting a phase step into the superfluid wavefunction, and directly observe their oscillatory motion in the trapped superfluid. As the interactions are tuned from the regime of Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC) of tightly bound molecules towards the Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) limit of long-range Cooper pairs, the effective mass of the solitons increases dramatically to more than 200 times their bare mass. This signals their filling with Andreev states and strong quantum fluctuations. For the unitary Fermi gas, the mass enhancement is more than fifty times larger than expectations from mean-field Bogoliubov-de Gennes theory. Our work paves the way towards the experimental study and control of Andreev bound states in ultracold atomic gases. In the presence of spin imbalance, the solitons created here represent one limit of the long sought-after Fulde-Ferrell-Larkin-Ovchinnikov (FFLO) state of mobile Cooper pairs.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                1509.01803

                Quantum gases & Cold atoms

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