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Quantum gas microscopy for single atom and spin detection


A particular strength of ultracold quantum gases is the range of versatile detection methods that are available. As they are based on atom–light interactions, the whole quantum optics toolbox can be used to tailor the detection process to the specific scientific question to be explored in the experiment. Common methods include time-of-flight measurements to access the momentum distribution of the gas, the use of cavities to monitor global properties of the quantum gas with minimal disturbance, and phase-contrast or high-intensity absorption imaging to obtain local real-space information in high-density settings. Even the ultimate limit of detecting each and every atom locally has been realized in two dimensions using so-called quantum gas microscopes. In fact, these microscopes have not only revolutionized detection—they have also revolutionized the control of lattice gases. Here, we provide a short overview of quantum gas microscopy, highlighting the new observables it can access as well as key experiments that have been enabled by its development.

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Fig. 1: Quantum gas microscopy.
Fig. 2: Equilibrium physics of strongly interacting lattice fermions.
Fig. 3: Dynamics of strongly interacting lattice fermions.
Fig. 4: Future directions for quantum gas microscopy.


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W.S.B. acknowledges funding from the National Science Foundation (grants DMR-1607277 and PHY-1912154), the David and Lucile Packard Foundation (grant 2016-65128) and the AFOSR Young Investigator Research Program (grant FA9550-16-1-0269). C.G. acknowledges funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement 817482 (PASQuanS), the European Research Council (ERC) 678580 (RyD-QMB), the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SPP 1929 – GiRyd) and the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation.

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Gross, C., Bakr, W.S. Quantum gas microscopy for single atom and spin detection. Nat. Phys. 17, 1316–1323 (2021).

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