Engineered Optical Potentials

Ultracold Atoms in Engineered Optical Potentials

We are developing optical trapping and manipulation techniques to facilitate the creation and study of various strongly correlated and “topological” quantum phases of matter. In particular, we will be studying ultra-cold lithium atoms in quasi-1D ring-shaped optical dipole traps. From an experimental perspective, a ring is a natural setting for testing fundamental transport properties of quantum liquids. The smooth, circular geometry of the ring makes it considerably easier to study “persistent” superfluid flow, especially near physical limits where such flows become fragile and break down. This is a particularly important aspect of the planned approach to confirming the existence of  unconventional superfluids such as the Fulde-Ferrell Larkin-Ovchinnikov (FFLO state.) The tools we are developing will allow us to create the first “circuits” of ultracold fermionic atoms and Bose-Fermi mixtures.