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Colloquium: Topological and Fractionalized Phases of Ultra-cold Atoms

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Nate Gemelke, The Pennsylvania State University
06 October 2016 from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
117 Osmond Laboratory
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Few- and many-body systems of ultracold atoms offer a wide array of tools to form and characterize simple forms of topologically ordered matter. Central to this aim has been the manipulation of samples in effective gauge fields formed by optical and magnetic fields, taking them adiabatically from topologically trivial states into ordered phases. These methods suffer from the relatively small energy gaps separating the topological phases from pre-cooled states.  I will describe our efforts to produce dissipative gauge-fields, in which weak optical scattering processes are used simultaneously to produce gauge fields and cool atoms directly into topologically non-trivial states. New results demonstrating non-equilibrium phase transitions, holographic scaling laws and photon-recoil-free dissipation in such a setting will be described, as well as how these processes can be used to create new long-range two-body interactions. I will briefly discuss techniques and prospects for probing fractionalized exchange and other characteristic properties of topologically ordered phases using these new tools.