Exchange-antisymmetric pair wavefunctions in fermionic systems can give rise to unconventional superconductors and superfluids1,2,3. The realization of these states in controllable quantum systems, such as ultracold gases, could enable new types of quantum simulations4,5,6,7,8, topological quantum gates9,10,11 and exotic few-body states12,13,14,15. However, p-wave and other antisymmetric interactions are weak in naturally occurring systems16,17, and their enhancement via Feshbach resonances in ultracold systems has been limited by three-body loss18,19,20,21,22,23,24. Here we create isolated pairs of spin-polarized fermionic atoms in a multiorbital three-dimensional optical lattice. We spectroscopically measure elastic p-wave interaction energies of strongly interacting pairs of atoms near a magnetic Feshbach resonance. The interaction strengths are widely tunable by the magnetic field and confinement strength, and yet collapse onto a universal curve when rescaled by the harmonic energy and length scales of a single lattice site. The absence of three-body processes enables the observation of elastic unitary p-wave interactions, as well as coherent oscillations between free-atom and interacting-pair states. All observations are compared both to an exact solution using a p-wave pseudopotential and to numerical solutions using an ab initio interaction potential. The understanding and control of on-site p-wave interactions provides a necessary component for the assembly of multiorbital lattice models25,26 and a starting point for investigations of how to protect such systems from three-body recombination in the presence of tunnelling, for instance using Pauli blocking and lattice engineering27,28.
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We acknowledge insightful discussions with F. Chevy and S. Zhang and helpful manuscript comments from J. Bohn, A. Kaufman and R. Learn. This work is supported by the AFOSR grants FA9550-19-1-0275, FA9550-19-1-7044 and FA9550-19-1-0365, by ARO W911NF-15-1-0603, by the NSF’s JILA-PFC PHY-1734006 and PHY-2012125 grants, by NIST and by NSERC.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Venu, V., Xu, P., Mamaev, M. et al. Unitary p-wave interactions between fermions in an optical lattice. Nature 613, 262–267 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-022-05405-6