Kevin Wright, Dartmouth College

Topic: "Exploring Quantum Phases of Matter with Ultracold Atomic Gases"  (Video)

ABSTRACT: Quantum many-body systems frequently exhibit fantastic behavior that is quite different from that of "everyday" forms of matter. Superfluidity, superconductivity, quantum Hall states, and many even more exotic phases of matter are known to occur under the right conditions, but predicting the nature (and even existence) of these states in a specific system is notoriously difficult, even when the properties of the individual particles are completely understood. Ultra-cold ensembles of neutral atoms have become a powerful experimental platform for studying these collective quantum phenomena in a precisely controlled and tunable way. One recent experimental success demonstrating the power of this approach is the creation of superfluid circuits of ultra-cold atoms which behave very much like simple superconducting circuits. These proof-of-principle experiments provide an important foundation for future studies of even more interesting quantum many-body states, and I will discuss a few specific ideas about how more sophisticated versions of these experiments with ultracold atoms could help provide insight into challenging problems in condensed matter physics (and perhaps even cosmology) that involve interacting quantum many-body systems.