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The Dicke Quantum Phase Transition with a Superfluid Gas in an Optical Cavity

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      Abstract

      A phase transition describes the sudden change of state in a physical system, such as the transition between a fluid and a solid. Quantum gases provide the opportunity to establish a direct link between experiment and generic models which capture the underlying physics. A fundamental concept to describe the collective matter-light interaction is the Dicke model which has been predicted to show an intriguing quantum phase transition. Here we realize the Dicke quantum phase transition in an open system formed by a Bose-Einstein condensate coupled to an optical cavity, and observe the emergence of a self-organized supersolid phase. The phase transition is driven by infinitely long-ranged interactions between the condensed atoms. These are induced by two-photon processes involving the cavity mode and a pump field. We show that the phase transition is described by the Dicke Hamiltonian, including counter-rotating coupling terms, and that the supersolid phase is associated with a spontaneously broken spatial symmetry. The boundary of the phase transition is mapped out in quantitative agreement with the Dicke model. The work opens the field of quantum gases with long-ranged interactions, and provides access to novel quantum phases.

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      Most cited references 3

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      On the superradiant phase transition for molecules in a quantized radiation field: the dicke maser model

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        Finite-Size Scaling Exponents of the Lipkin-Meshkov-Glick Model

         S. Dusuel,  J Vidal (2004)
        We study the ground state properties of the critical Lipkin-Meshkov-Glick model. Using the Holstein-Primakoff boson representation, and the continuous unitary transformation technique, we compute explicitly the finite-size scaling exponents for the energy gap, the ground state energy, the magnetization, and the spin-spin correlation functions. Finally, we discuss the behavior of the two-spin entanglement in the vicinity of the phase transition.
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          Probing quantum phases of ultracold atoms in optical lattices by transmission spectra in cavity QED

          Studies of ultracold atoms in optical lattices link various disciplines, providing a playground where fundamental quantum many-body concepts, formulated in condensed-matter physics, can be tested in much better controllable atomic systems, e.g., strongly correlated phases, quantum information processing. Standard methods to measure quantum properties of Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) are based on matter-wave interference between atoms released from traps which destroys the system. Here we propose a nondestructive method based on optical measurements, and prove that atomic statistics can be mapped on transmission spectra of a high-Q cavity. This can be extremely useful for studying phase transitions between Mott insulator and superfluid states, since various phases show qualitatively distinct light scattering. Joining the paradigms of cavity quantum electrodynamics (QED) and ultracold gases will enable conceptually new investigations of both light and matter at ultimate quantum levels, which only recently became experimentally possible. Here we predict effects accessible in such novel setups.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            16 December 2009
            2010-05-31
            0912.3261
            10.1038/nature09009

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

            Custom metadata
            Nature 464, 1301 (2010)
            10 pages, 5 figures, updated version
            quant-ph cond-mat.quant-gas

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