Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ColOpt (Collective effects and optomechanics in ultra-cold matter)
Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-12-31
Collective, nonlinear dynamics and spontaneous self-organization are abundant in nature, sciences and technology. Building on this interdisciplinary relevance, a particular novelty of ColOpt is the integration of classical and quantum self-organization. The research program focuses on collective interactions of light with laser-cooled cold and quantum-degenerate matter. We will explore innovative control of matter through opto-mechanical effects, identify novel quantum phases, investigate light transport in strongly scattering and disordered systems, enhance knowledge of long-range coupled systems and advance the associated trapping, laser and optical technologies, establishing new concepts in quantum information and simulation.
The relevance of this work for society emerges from four main strands and motivations;
1. To achieve a deeper understanding of non-equilibrium quantum systems is a mayor quest from a fundamental point of view, as this underpins our understanding of how quantum systems interface with each other and the classical world.
2. To build new Quantum Technologies on non-trivial quantum aspects as entanglement is potentially a way to provide a revolution in applications as secure communication, computation, material science and sensing.
3. To understand complex systems with nonlinear interactions, memory and feedback in physics and to foster the ability of transfer of this knowledge to more complex systems in biology, ecology, economy, …
4. To provide the skilful and responsible researchers, who are able to drive the technological innovation and have an understanding of potential impacts and can participate as informed citizens in societal discussions.
The work is organized in four scientific work packages with the objectives
1. To demonstrate novel self-organized spatial states of cold classical and quantum degenerate matter (WP1)
2. To implement novel trapping geometries and complex light fields for quantum information (WP2)
3. To advance collective scattering and coupled dipole dynamics in dense atomic samples (WP3)
4. To advance the supporting laser technology (WP4)
We launched the ambitious research projects addressing the scientific objectives of ColOpt. All projects are making good progress. We highlight the following results
1. Researchers from the CNRS identified and characterized experimentally spatio-temporal instabilities on large, dense clouds of atoms. The work has relevance to achieve large, high density atomic clouds for scattering experiments and quantum technologies but could serve also as laboratory test bed for large scale radiation induced structures in astrophysical context.
2. Researchers from the University of Strathclyde demonstrated that optomechanical structures and solitons in a cavity with cold atoms start to rotate as a whole, if the pump beam is not a simple, uniform plane wave but contains orbital angular momentum. This has relevance for transport properties in self-organized phases and for control of trapping atoms and potentially other nanoparticles.
3. Researchers from the University of Milano studied the vibrational modes of a two atom “molecule”, in which the atoms are bound to each other by light forces. They demonstrate that long-term stability is only possible with an extra cooling mechanism. This has principle relevance for trapping and cooling schemes influenced or enabled by optical binding.
4. Resarchers from Toptica achieved good progress towards a miniaturized narrow-band diode laser. This is expected to make quantum sensors more robust, compact and less expensive to enable a broader uptake of quantum technologies.
Building on the training and the scientific workpackages, the dissemination and outreach activities delivered under WP7 are progressing as planned. The first publications with ESRs in coauthorship are published or submitted. 47% of papers are collaborative between ColOpt partners.
The long-term research vision of the ColOpt partners is to advance the fundamentals and applications of mesoscopic cold atom physics, out-of-equilibrium quantum physics and quantum technologies and the understanding of complex quantum systems considerably with the expected results to
1. Demonstrate novel phase transitions and quantum phases including supersolids and long-range coupled systems.
2. Advance out-of-equilibrium and nonlinear quantum physics in self-organized states and cavity cooling.
3. Demonstrate unprecedented control of matter via self-assembly and complex structured light field and provide a better understanding of optical binding.
4. Provide an understanding of transport properties of light in dense, disordered sample and the possibility of the complete suppression of transport (so-called Anderson localization).
5. Advance the underpinning technology by providing lasers and spatial light modulators with either higher performance or better usability and affordability.
Awareness of the need and benefits of connecting to different communities and in particular to the general public is an important aim of ColOpt. ERSs provided laymen descriptions of their projects on the ColOpt website. On the ColOpt Science Day all ESR engaged interactively with the public of all ages visiting the Glasgow Science Centre. A public evening lecture cosponsored by ColOpt with the title “Time, Einstein and the coolest stuff in the universe” explained ColOpt relevant subjects of laser cooling and Bose-Einstein condensation at a higher level to the interested public. ESRs took responsibility in running student chapters from OSA/EPS Young Minds and engaged further in outreach events including Girl’s day and career activities.