09 February 2011 Nature Physics News&Views

Hopping of particles in p-orbitals.

Maciej Lewenstein coauthors
a review on recent advances
in quantum simulation with
optical lattices.
The paper ‘Optical lattices: Orbital dance’ by Prof.Vincent Liu and ICFO group leader and ICREA Prof. Maciej Lewenstein, reviews a promising approach to quantum simulation with optical lattices recently proposed in Nature Physics by researchers at the Institute for Laser Physics of the University of Hamburg.

The authors of the review ask us to “be prepared for a flurry of fascinating experimental and theoretical developments” as simulation of condensed-matter physics with ground-state atoms trapped in optical lattices upgrades by excitation of the atoms into higher orbital states. As the figure shows, hopping of particles in orbital lattices has strange properties: is anisotropic and may even change the sign.

Prof. Liu is in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pittsburgh, and the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of California, USA.