Interacting atoms in interesting lattices
Atoms moving within the spatially periodic potential generated by interfering plane waves of light can mimic the behavior of electrons that move within the spatially periodic potential within a solid-state crystal. In this manner, quantum gases can serve as an experimental quantum simulator for the physics models that are used to describe electronic materials. I will describe how one can use optical lattices formed using two different colors of light to produce an array of periodic potentials with differing geometry – specifically, two-dimensional lattices with triangular unit cells – and then how interacts modify the correlations of neutral bosonic atoms trapped within those potentials. I will summarize two major experimental findings: a quantitative test of the Bose-Hubbard model achieved by comparing gases trapped in two different trapping geometries, and a characterization of inversion-asymmetric spatial correlations in a trimerized (breathing) kagome lattice. I will conclude with several suggestions for future work.