Quantum Simulation with Cold Atoms in Engineered Optical Potentials

Many-body quantum systems can be very difficult to handle theoretically, and in some important cases the true nature of the phase diagram is not yet accurately known. One possible path to gain deeper understanding of these incredibly rich physical systems is to engineer a "synthetic" many body quantum system that maps onto a particular system of interest, but has more conveniently tunable properties. Ultracold atoms in engineered optical potentials are one platform for such an approach. We are developing optical trapping and manipulation techniques to create (and examine the properties of) various strongly correlated and "topological" quantum phases of matter.