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Phys Rev Lett. 2011 Mar 25;106(12):125301. Epub 2011 Mar 23.

Local versus global equilibration near the bosonic Mott-insulator-superfluid transition.

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Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


We study the time scales for adiabaticity of trapped cold bosons subject to a time-varying lattice potential using a dynamic Gutzwiller mean-field theory. We explain apparently contradictory experimental observations by demonstrating a clear separation of time scales for local dynamics (~ ms) and global mass redistribution (~1 s). We provide a simple explanation for the short and fast time scales, finding that while density or energy transport is dominated by low energy phonons, particle-hole excitations set the adiabaticity time for fast ramps. We show how mass transport shuts off within Mott-insulator domains, leading to a chemical potential gradient that fails to equilibrate on experimental time scales.

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