Research ArticlePHYSICS

Coupling ultracold matter to dynamical gauge fields in optical lattices: From flux attachment to ℤ2 lattice gauge theories

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Science Advances  11 Oct 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 10, eaav7444
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav7444


From the standard model of particle physics to strongly correlated electrons, various physical settings are formulated in terms of matter coupled to gauge fields. Quantum simulations based on ultracold atoms in optical lattices provide a promising avenue to study these complex systems and unravel the underlying many-body physics. Here, we demonstrate how quantized dynamical gauge fields can be created in mixtures of ultracold atoms in optical lattices, using a combination of coherent lattice modulation with strong interactions. Specifically, we propose implementation of ℤ2 lattice gauge theories coupled to matter, reminiscent of theories previously introduced in high-temperature superconductivity. We discuss a range of settings from zero-dimensional toy models to ladders featuring transitions in the gauge sector to extended two-dimensional systems. Mastering lattice gauge theories in optical lattices constitutes a new route toward the realization of strongly correlated systems, with properties dictated by an interplay of dynamical matter and gauge fields.

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