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Domain-wall dynamics in Bose–Einstein condensates with synthetic gauge fields

Abstract

Interactions in many-body physical systems, from condensed matter to high-energy physics, lead to the emergence of exotic particles. Examples are mesons in quantum chromodynamics and composite fermions in fractional quantum Hall systems, which arise from the dynamical coupling between matter and gauge fields1,2. The challenge of understanding the complexity of matter–gauge interaction can be aided by quantum simulations, for which ultracold atoms offer a versatile platform via the creation of artificial gauge fields. An important step towards simulating the physics of exotic emergent particles is the synthesis of artificial gauge fields whose state depends dynamically on the presence of matter. Here we demonstrate deterministic formation of domain walls in a stable Bose–Einstein condensate with a gauge field that is determined by the atomic density. The density-dependent gauge field is created by simultaneous modulations of an optical lattice potential and interatomic interactions, and results in domains of atoms condensed into two different momenta. Modelling the domain walls as elementary excitations, we find that the domain walls respond to synthetic electric field with a charge-to-mass ratio larger than and opposite to that of the bare atoms. Our work offers promising prospects to simulate the dynamics and interactions of previously undescribed excitations in quantum systems with dynamical gauge fields.

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Fig. 1: Illustration of a Bose–Einstein condensate with a density-dependent gauge field.
Fig. 2: Creation of static and density-dependent gauge fields.
Fig. 3: Domains and domain walls in the presence of a density-dependent gauge field.
Fig. 4: Dynamics of the domain wall in response to a synthetic electric field \({\boldsymbol{ {\mathcal E} }}\).

Data availability

The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request. Source data are provided with this paper.

Code availability

The codes for the analysis of data shown within this paper are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

We thank E. Mueller for helpful discussions and K. Patel for carefully reading the manuscript. This work is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) grant no. PHY-2103542, NSF QLCI-HQAN no. 2016136, and the Army Research Office STIR grant W911NF2110108. Z.Z. is supported by the Grainger Graduate Fellowship.

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K.-X.Y. designed and performed the experiments and analysed the data. All authors contributed to discussions on the experiment and preparation of the manuscript. C.C. supervised the project.

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Correspondence to Cheng Chin.

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Nature thanks Pietro Massignan and the other, anonymous, reviewer for their contribution to the peer review of this work. Peer reviewer reports are available.

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Extended data figures and tables

Extended Data Fig. 1 Estimation of the zero-crossing position.

The population imbalance between the ±k* states in Fig. 2h is fitted to extract the zero-crossing position.

Extended Data Fig. 2 Extraction of ϵexp from magnetization M.

Experiment data in Fig. 3e are fitted to extract the value of ϵexp.

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Yao, KX., Zhang, Z. & Chin, C. Domain-wall dynamics in Bose–Einstein condensates with synthetic gauge fields. Nature 602, 68–72 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-04250-3

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