18 April 2013 Imaging new topological insulators with cold-atom systems

Experimental scheme and general strategy for direct imaging of topological edge states in a cold atom system

Prof. Maciej Lewenstein collaborates in a PNAS paper on cold atom experiments used to visualize the propagation of edge current on topological insulators. Topological insulators are novel interesting materials that conduct robust current at their edges. Their proprieties are particularly strong due to intrinsic topological order encoded globally in them. Synthetic topological insulators can be realized with ultra-cold atoms which offer novel ways of detection of topological proprieties and edge current. They offer fascinating applications in quantum information, spintronics and spintomics.

In a paper published in PNAS, ICREA Prof. at ICFO Maciej Lewenstein collaborated with researchers from Université Libre de Bruxelle, CNRS Laboratoire Kastler Brossel, Universidad Complutense, Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information, Institute for Theoretical Physics and University of Maryland to show that optical-lattice-based experiments can be tailored to directly visualize the propagation of edge current in topological insulators. The method described is rooted in the unique capability for initially shaping a cold atomic gas with optical-lattices and imaging its evolution after suddenly removing induced shaping.