Synopsis: An ultracold graphene analog

The properties of graphene might be studied from another angle by putting ultracold atoms into a hexagonal optical lattice.
Synopsis figure
Illustration: K. L. Lee et al., Phys. Rev. A. (2009)

Two highly active fields of physics have merged in recent years, as researchers work to build models of condensed matter systems using ultracold atoms suspended in optical lattices. Graphene provides an environment for many intriguing physics problems, with its massless fermions, unusually high carrier mobility, and anomalous quantum Hall behavior. Now, Kean Loon Lee and colleagues at the National University of Singapore, and at Ecole Normale Supérieure and Institut Non Linéaire de Nice in France, report in Physical Review A their theoretical studies of ultracold atoms arranged in a hexagonal graphenelike optical lattice.

When atoms are loaded into optical traps researchers can control their position and the strength of their interactions. The authors model a two-dimensional honeycomb lattice of traps created by the interference of three laser beams. They then carry out tight-binding calculations of the band structure to show that a signature of graphene—transport of massless excitations—could indeed exist in this analogous system. Lee et al. also study the hopping of nearest-neighbor atoms and the influence of lattice distortions, providing a useful guidepost to future experimental efforts. – David Voss


Announcements

More Announcements »

Subject Areas

Atomic and Molecular Physics

Previous Synopsis

Next Synopsis

Optics

Attoseconds for all

Read More »

Related Articles

Synopsis: Mid-Infrared Lasers Probe Atomic Structure
Atomic and Molecular Physics

Synopsis: Mid-Infrared Lasers Probe Atomic Structure

Researchers have imaged the structure and the response of atoms and molecules with powerful mid-infrared electric fields. Read More »

Synopsis: Chip-Size Beam Splitter for Electrons
Atomic and Molecular Physics

Synopsis: Chip-Size Beam Splitter for Electrons

A new electron beam splitter that fits on a millimeter-sized chip could allow quantum optics experiments with free electrons. Read More »

Viewpoint: Making a Molecular Movie with X Rays
Atomic and Molecular Physics

Viewpoint: Making a Molecular Movie with X Rays

Femtosecond x-ray pulses image structural changes in a molecule. Read More »

More Articles