Article | Published:

Single-spin addressing in an atomic Mott insulator

Nature volume 471, pages 319324 (17 March 2011) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Ultracold atoms in optical lattices provide a versatile tool with which to investigate fundamental properties of quantum many-body systems. In particular, the high degree of control of experimental parameters has allowed the study of many interesting phenomena, such as quantum phase transitions and quantum spin dynamics. Here we demonstrate how such control can be implemented at the most fundamental level of a single spin at a specific site of an optical lattice. Using a tightly focused laser beam together with a microwave field, we were able to flip the spin of individual atoms in a Mott insulator with sub-diffraction-limited resolution, well below the lattice spacing. The Mott insulator provided us with a large two-dimensional array of perfectly arranged atoms, in which we created arbitrary spin patterns by sequentially addressing selected lattice sites after freezing out the atom distribution. We directly monitored the tunnelling quantum dynamics of single atoms in the lattice prepared along a single line, and observed that our addressing scheme leaves the atoms in the motional ground state. The results should enable studies of entropy transport and the quantum dynamics of spin impurities, the implementation of novel cooling schemes, and the engineering of quantum many-body phases and various quantum information processing applications.

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Acknowledgements

We thank W. Ketterle for discussions and ideas. We acknowledge the help of R. Glöckner and R. Labouvie during the construction of the experiment. We acknowledge funding by MPG, DFG, Stiftung Rheinland-Pfalz für Innovation, Carl-Zeiss Stiftung, EU (NAMEQUAM, AQUTE, Marie Curie Fellowships to J.F.S. and M.C.), and JSPS (Postdoctoral Fellowship for Research Abroad to T.F.).

Author information

Author notes

    • Jacob F. Sherson

    Present address: Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Aarhus, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.

Affiliations

  1. Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik, Hans-Kopfermann-Str. 1, 85748 Garching, Germany

    • Christof Weitenberg
    • , Manuel Endres
    • , Jacob F. Sherson
    • , Marc Cheneau
    • , Peter Schauß
    • , Takeshi Fukuhara
    • , Immanuel Bloch
    •  & Stefan Kuhr
  2. Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Schellingstr. 4/II, 80799 München, Germany

    • Immanuel Bloch

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Contributions

All authors contributed to the acquisition and analysis of the data; C.W., M.E., J.F.S., M.C. and S.K. designed and constructed the apparatus; C.W., I.B. and S.K. wrote the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Stefan Kuhr.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nature09827

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