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Subwavelength vacuum lattices and atom–atom interactions in two-dimensional photonic crystals



Quantum simulation with cold atoms in optical lattices is an attractive avenue for explorations of quantum many-body physics. A principal challenge in the field is to increase the energy and length scales in current set-ups, thereby reducing temperature and coherence-time requirements. Here, we present a new paradigm for high-density, two-dimensional optical lattices in photonic crystal waveguides. Specially engineered two-dimensional photonic crystals provide a practical platform to trap atoms and engineer their interactions in ways that surpass the limitations of current technologies and enable investigations of novel quantum many-body matter. Our schemes remove the constraint on the lattice constant set by the free-space optical wavelength in favour of deeply sub-wavelength atomic arrays. We further describe possibilities for atom–atom interactions mediated by photons in two-dimensional photonic crystal waveguides with energy scales several orders of magnitude larger than for exchange interactions in free-space lattices and with the capability to engineer strongly long-range interactions.

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Figure 1: Nanophotonic atom lattices and parameter regimes opened for many-body simulations.
Figure 2: Subwavelength atomic lattices using vacuum forces.
Figure 3: Scheme for atom trapping to enable photon-mediated interactions.
Figure 4: Atomic level structure, simplified dispersion relation and GM intensities.


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The authors thank O. Painter, J. Muñiz and S. Meenehan for discussions. The work of A.G.-T. and J.I.C. was funded by European Union integrated project ‘Simulators and Interfaces with Quantum Systems’ (SIQS). A.G.-T. also acknowledges support from the Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation and Intra-European Fellowship NanoQuIS (625955). J.I.C. acknowledges support as a Moore Distinguished Scholar. D.E.C. acknowledges support from Fundacio Privada Cellex Barcelona. H.J.K. and C.-L.H. acknowledge funding by the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter, a National Science Foundation (NSF) Physics Frontier Center, with support of the Moore Foundation, by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Quantum Memories in Photon-Atomic-Solid State Systems (QuMPASS) Multidisciplinary University Research Initiatives (MURI), by the Department of Defense National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellows (DoD NSSEFF) programme, and by NSF PHY1205729. H.J.K. acknowledges support as a Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics Distinguished Scholar.

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A.G.-T. and C.-L.H. carried out analytical and numerical calculations. A.G.-T., C.-L.H., D.C., J.I.C. and H.J.K. contributed materials and analysis tools. A.G-T. and H.J.K. wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to H. J. Kimble.

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González-Tudela, A., Hung, CL., Chang, D. et al. Subwavelength vacuum lattices and atom–atom interactions in two-dimensional photonic crystals. Nature Photon 9, 320–325 (2015).

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