Watching Fermions Transition on Site

March 4, 2016

Fig. 1 Site-resolved images of the fermionic metal-to-MI transition. [Reprinted with permission from AAAS]

Optical lattices are a promising platform for simulating the many-body physics that occurs in solids. In lattices filled with cold bosonic atoms, “quantum microscopy” makes it possible to watch quantum phase transitions as they unravel. In a new Report in Science, the team of physicists in Prof. Markus Greiner's group bring a similar capability to lattices filled with fermions, which are trickier to cool but are a closer match to electrons in a solid. Tuning the interaction between the 6Li atoms allowed for the observation of transitions from a metallic phase to a band insulator and then to an interaction-dominated Mott insulator phase.

See D. Greif, M.F. Parsons, A. Mazurenko, C.S. Chiu, S. Blatt, F. Huber, G. Ji, M. Greiner, "Site-Resolved Imaging of a Fermionic Mott Insulator," Science 351: 6276 (26 Feb 2016) DOI: 10.1126/science.aad9041.