Exploring Quantum Soft Matter with Ultracold Atomic Gases
Stanford Applied Physics
Advances in the quantum manipulation of ultracold atomic gases are opening a new frontier in the quest to better understand strongly correlated matter. By exploiting the long-range and anisotropic character of the dipole-dipole interaction, we hope to create novel forms of quantum mesophases, states of quantum soft matter intermediate between canonical states of order and disorder. Our group recently created quantum degenerate gases of the most magnetic atom, dysprosium, which should allow investigations of quantum liquid crystals, mesophases thought to exist in, e.g., high Tc cuprate superconductors. In addition, Dy will form the key ingredient in hybrid quantum circuits as well as in novel scanning probes using atom chips, substrates supporting micron-sized current-carrying wires that create magnetic microtraps near surfaces. We are developing a cryogenic atom chip microscope that will possess unsurpassed sensitivity and resolution for the imaging of condensed matter materials exhibiting exotic transport and magnetism. Finally, we will present recent theoretical work suggesting an additional route to explore quantum mesophases. We propose that quantum glasses arising from quenched disorder in fully emergent supersolids may be observable with atomic BECs in multimode optical cavities.