21 February 2011 ICFO in Nature Physics

Hexagonal optical lattice

Researchers at ILP Hamburg and ICFO report on the properties of ultracold atoms
in a hexagonal optical lattice.
Ultracold atoms in periodic potentials constitute an important tool to simulate solid state systems and study their properties. In this paper the authors discuss the first realization of ultracold quantum gases in a hexagonal, spin-dependent optical potential. They show how to use this system to tailor quantum phases and dynamics of spin-mixtures, and how the combination of interactions between different spin-states and the spin-dependent lattice potential leads to novel quantum phases. This is the first step towards the realization of graphene-like structures with ultracold atoms. Experiments on the two-dimensional material graphene earned the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2010.

‘Multi-component quantum gases in spin-dependent hexagonal lattices’ has been published in Nature Physics by PhD students Parvis Soltan-Panahi, Julian Struck, Andreas Bick, Wiebke Plenkers, Georg Meineke, Dr. Christoph Becker, Dr. Patrick Windpassinger, and Prof. Klaus Sengstock from the Institute for Laser Physics, U. Hamburg, (Germany) together with ICFO PhD student Philipp Hauke and ICREA Prof. Maciej Lewenstein.