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Science. 2010 Jul 30;329(5991):547-50. doi: 10.1126/science.1192368. Epub 2010 Jun 17.

Probing the superfluid-to-Mott insulator transition at the single-atom level.

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  • 1Department of Physics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.

Abstract

Quantum gases in optical lattices offer an opportunity to experimentally realize and explore condensed matter models in a clean, tunable system. We used single atom-single lattice site imaging to investigate the Bose-Hubbard model on a microscopic level. Our technique enables space- and time-resolved characterization of the number statistics across the superfluid-Mott insulator quantum phase transition. Site-resolved probing of fluctuations provides us with a sensitive local thermometer, allows us to identify microscopic heterostructures of low-entropy Mott domains, and enables us to measure local quantum dynamics, revealing surprisingly fast transition time scales. Our results may serve as a benchmark for theoretical studies of quantum dynamics, and may guide the engineering of low-entropy phases in a lattice.

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