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978-3-8439-0294-6, Reihe Physik

Kristian Baumann
Experimental Realization of the Dicke Quantum Phase Transition

143 Seiten, Dissertation Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) Zürich (2011), Hardcover, A5

Zusammenfassung / Abstract

We report on the first experimental realization of the Dicke quantum phase transition realized in the quantum motion of a Bose–Einstein condensate coupled to an optical cavity. Conceptually, the transition is driven by cavity-mediated long-range interactions, giving rise to the emergence of a self-organized supersolid phase.

The Dicke phase transition, predicted in 1973, has not been demonstrated experimentally before this work, both due to fundamental and technological reasons. These challenges have been overcome in the present thesis by employing atomic momentum states of a Bose-Einstein condensate, which are coupled via two-photon Raman transitions involving a cavity photon and a free-space pump photon. This open-system implementation of the Dicke model allows to tune all relevant parameters and offers a unique detection scheme to monitor the many-body system in real time.

We demonstrate that the phase transition is accompanied by a macroscopically occupied cavity field and a striking change in the atomic momentum distribution, due to spontaneous self-organization of the atomic density on a checkerboard lattice. The boundary of the transition is mapped out by scanning two parameters of the Dicke model, to reveal a phase diagram in close agreement with the model description.

Two different ordered configurations are allowed in the superradiant phase, giving rise to the concept of spontaneous symmetry breaking at the phase transition. We experimentally distinguish the symmetry-broken states and study the origin of the symmetry-breaking process. The finite spatial extension of our system induces a small symmetry-breaking field which changes randomly on each experimental realization. The influence of this field is studied and shown to diminish upon dynamically crossing the transition point with increasing transition rates.