Letter | Published:

A quantum gas microscope for detecting single atoms in a Hubbard-regime optical lattice

Nature volume 462, pages 7477 (05 November 2009) | Download Citation

Subjects

Abstract

Recent years have seen tremendous progress in creating complex atomic many-body quantum systems. One approach is to use macroscopic, effectively thermodynamic ensembles of ultracold atoms to create quantum gases and strongly correlated states of matter, and to analyse the bulk properties of the ensemble. For example, bosonic and fermionic atoms in a Hubbard-regime optical lattice1,2,3,4,5 can be used for quantum simulations of solid-state models6. The opposite approach is to build up microscopic quantum systems atom-by-atom, with complete control over all degrees of freedom7,8,9. The atoms or ions act as qubits and allow the realization of quantum gates, with the goal of creating highly controllable quantum information systems. Until now, the macroscopic and microscopic strategies have been fairly disconnected. Here we present a quantum gas ‘microscope’ that bridges the two approaches, realizing a system in which atoms of a macroscopic ensemble are detected individually and a complete set of degrees of freedom for each of them is determined through preparation and measurement. By implementing a high-resolution optical imaging system, single atoms are detected with near-unity fidelity on individual sites of a Hubbard-regime optical lattice. The lattice itself is generated by projecting a holographic mask through the imaging system. It has an arbitrary geometry, chosen to support both strong tunnel coupling between lattice sites and strong on-site confinement. Our approach can be used to directly detect strongly correlated states of matter; in the context of condensed matter simulation, this corresponds to the detection of individual electrons in the simulated crystal. Also, the quantum gas microscope may enable addressing and read-out of large-scale quantum information systems based on ultracold atoms.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1.

    , , , & Cold bosonic atoms in optical lattices. Phys. Rev. Lett. 81, 3108–3111 (1998)

  2. 2.

    , , , & Quantum phase transition from a superfluid to a Mott insulator in a gas of ultracold atoms. Nature 415, 39–44 (2002)

  3. 3.

    , , , & Fermionic atoms in a three dimensional optical lattice: observing Fermi surfaces, dynamics, and interactions. Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 080403 (2005)

  4. 4.

    , , , & A Mott insulator of fermionic atoms in an optical lattice. Nature 455, 204–207 (2008)

  5. 5.

    et al. Metallic and insulating phases of repulsively interacting fermions in a 3D optical lattice. Science 322, 1520–1525 (2008)

  6. 6.

    , & Many-body physics with ultracold gases. Rev. Mod. Phys. 80, 885–964 (2008)

  7. 7.

    et al. Neutral atom quantum register. Phys. Rev. Lett. 93, 150501 (2004)

  8. 8.

    & Entangled states of trapped atomic ions. Nature 453, 1008–1014 (2008)

  9. 9.

    et al. Observation of Rydberg blockade between two atoms. Nature Phys. 5, 110–114 (2009)

  10. 10.

    & The cold atom Hubbard toolbox. Ann. Phys. 315, 52–79 (2005)

  11. 11.

    , & Controlling spin exchange interactions of ultracold atoms in optical lattices. Phys. Rev. Lett. 91, 090402 (2003)

  12. 12.

    et al. Time-resolved observation and control of superexchange interactions with ultracold atoms in optical lattices. Science 319, 295–299 (2008)

  13. 13.

    , & Imaging single atoms in a three-dimensional array. Nature Phys. 3, 556–560 (2007)

  14. 14.

    et al. Nearest-neighbor detection of atoms in a 1D optical lattice by fluorescence imaging. Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 053001 (2009)

  15. 15.

    , , , & High-resolution scanning electron microscopy of an ultracold quantum gas. Nature Phys. 4, 949–953 (2008)

  16. 16.

    et al. Direct observation of number squeezing in an optical lattice. Preprint at 〈〉 (2009)

  17. 17.

    A revolution in optical manipulation. Nature 424, 810–816 (2003)

  18. 18.

    , & Dense atom clouds in a holographic atom trap. Opt. Lett. 28, 1266–1268 (2003)

  19. 19.

    et al. Holographic generation of microtrap arrays for single atoms by use of a programmable phase modulator. J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 21, 1889–1894 (2004)

  20. 20.

    , & Ultracold molecules: vehicles to scalable quantum information processing. N. J. Phys. 11, 055022 (2009)

  21. 21.

    , , & In situ observation of incompressible Mott-insulating domains in ultracold atomic gases. Nature 460, 995–998 (2009)

  22. 22.

    & Solid immersion microscope. Appl. Phys. Lett. 57, 2615–2616 (1990)

  23. 23.

    , , , , & Two-dimensional quantum gas in a hybrid surface trap. Phys. Rev. A 80, 021602(R) (2009)

  24. 24.

    , & Sisyphus cooling of a bound atom. J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 9, 32–42 (1992)

  25. 25.

    , , & Laser cooling at high density in deep far-detuned optical lattices. Phys. Rev. A 59, R19–R22 (1999)

  26. 26.

    , , , & Experimental demonstration of single-site addressability in a two-dimensional optical lattice. Phys. Rev. Lett. 103, 080404 (2009)

  27. 27.

    , , , & Unity occupation of sites in a 3D optical lattice. Phys. Rev. Lett. 82, 2262–2265 (1999)

  28. 28.

    et al. Controlled collisions for multi-particle entanglement of optically trapped atoms. Nature 425, 937–940 (2003)

  29. 29.

    & A one-way quantum computer. Phys. Rev. Lett. 86, 5188–5191 (2001)

  30. 30.

    et al. Cooling fermionic atoms in optical lattices by shaping the confinement. Phys. Rev. A 79, 061601 (2009)

Download references

Acknowledgements

We are grateful for discussions with D. Weiss and V. Vuletic and thank P. Unterwaditzer, E. Su and J. Brachmann for experimental assistance during the early stage of the experiment. We thank D. Weiss for sharing the lens design of the objective lens. This work was funded by grants from the NSF, AFOSR MURI, DARPA, an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship to M.G., and an NSF Fellowship to J.I.G.

Author Contributions All authors contributed to the design and building of the set-up and taking of the data. W.S.B. and S.F. analysed the data and W.S.B., S.F. and M.G. wrote the manuscript.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Harvard-MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms and Department of Physics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

    • Waseem S. Bakr
    • , Jonathon I. Gillen
    • , Amy Peng
    • , Simon Fölling
    •  & Markus Greiner

Authors

  1. Search for Waseem S. Bakr in:

  2. Search for Jonathon I. Gillen in:

  3. Search for Amy Peng in:

  4. Search for Simon Fölling in:

  5. Search for Markus Greiner in:

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Markus Greiner.

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nature08482

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.