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Phys Rev Lett. 2007 Feb 23;98(8):080404. Epub 2007 Feb 22.

Mott-insulator transition in a two-dimensional atomic Bose gas.

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Joint Quantum Institute, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and University of Maryland, Gaithersburg, MD 20899, USA.


Cold atoms in periodic potentials are versatile quantum systems for implementing simple models prevalent in condensed matter theory. Here we realize the 2D Bose-Hubbard model by loading a Bose-Einstein condensate into an optical lattice, and study the resulting Mott insulator. The measured momentum distributions agree quantitatively with theory (no adjustable parameters). In these systems, the Mott insulator forms in a spatially discrete shell structure which we probe by focusing on correlations in atom shot noise. These correlations show a marked dependence on the lattice depth, consistent with the changing size of the insulating shell expected from simple arguments.

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