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Cold atoms trapped in optical lattices (crystals of light) provide a pristine platform for exploring quantum many body physics. Motivated by several recent experiments, this thesis examines the equilibrium and non-equilibrium dynamics of a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) loaded in a low dimensional optical lattice in order to realize novel quantum phases. There are two main research directions in this thesis. The first one involves the possibility that exotic order spontaneously forms when two-component bosons are trapped in a honeycomb lattice. My studies on this theme is motivated by the observation of a “twisted superfluid” state in Prof. Klaus Sengstock’s group at Hamburg (Soltan-Panahi et al., Nat. Phys. 8, 71 (2012)). A twisted superfluid involves Bose-Einstein condensation into a state whose order parameter has a spatially varying phase. In chapter 3, I study the stability of a Bose-Einstein condensate towards forming a twisted superfluid within the framework of mean field theory. Despite a exhaustive numerical search I do not find a parameter regime with a twisted superfluid. This search involved all experimentally relevant parameter regimes and therefore mean field theory predicted that the experimentalists should not observe a twisted superfluid. I conclude that the experimental observations were either a manifestation of counter superfluidity or due to interactions during time-of-flight. Subsequent experiments showed that the observations were an artifact of the measurement process. The second research direction in this thesis is an exploration of the stability of periodically driven quantum systems (also known as Floquet systems). Floquet systems can be used to realize exotic non-equilibrium quantum phases which do not have a counterpart in static systems. However, the driving can cause these systems to heat up which presents a major obstacle to creating exotic states. To explore this issue in a concrete example, I model an experiment (Parker, Ha, and Chin, Nat. Phys. 9, 769 (2013)) where a Bose-Einstein condensate loaded in an optical lattice is subjected to periodic shaking. I investigate the stability of this Floquet BEC to interactions. This research direction consists of 3 studies. In chapter 4, I first do this analysis for a purely one-dimensional system and identify a large parameter regime where the BEC is stable. In the next two chapters, I go beyond 1D and consider the role of transverse degrees of freedom. This is because the shaken lattice experiments that I model involves a 1D array of pancakes. I find that this geometry leads to much more dissipation than a purely 1D system. This extra dissipation arises because interactions can transfer energy between different directions. In chapter 5, I consider the extreme case where there is no transverse confinement. I find that in the absence of transverse confinement, a one-dimensional Floquet BEC is generically unstable. Finally, in chapter 6, I consider harmonic transverse confinement modeling the crossover between chapters 4 and 5. I find that as the transverse confinement is made stronger, the atom loss rate initially increases, but beyond a critical transverse confinement, the atom loss disappears due to unavailability of phase space for scattering. I also predict that if the transverse confinement is tuned to the vicinity of certain magic values, the heating rate exhibits a sharp drop. I perform similar analyses for a shaken square lattice and find that generically a low-dimensional Floquet BEC can be stabilized by suitably designing the transverse confinement.

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Atomic physics; Condensed matter physics


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Mueller, Erich

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Sethna, James Patarasp
Vengalattore, Mukund

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Ph. D., Physics

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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Attribution 4.0 International


dissertation or thesis

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