Bust of Max Planck

Highlights

Publication Highlights

Interaction-Induced Transparency for Strong-Coupling Polaritons

The propagation of light in strongly coupled atomic media takes place through the formation of polaritons—hybrid quasiparticles resulting from a superposition of an atomic and a photonic excitation. Here we consider the propagation under the condition of electromagnetically induced transparency and show that a novel many-body phenomenon can appear due to strong, dissipative interactions between the polaritons. Upon increasing the photon-pump strength, we find a first-order transition between an opaque phase with strongly broadened polaritons and a transparent phase where a long-lived polariton branch with highly tunable occupation emerges. Across this nonequilibrium phase transition, the transparency window is reconstructed via nonlinear interference effects induced by the dissipative polariton interactions. Our predictions are based on a systematic diagrammatic expansion of the nonequilibrium Dyson equations which can be controlled, even in the nonperturbative regime of large single-atom cooperativities, provided the polariton interactions are sufficiently long-ranged. Such a regime can be reached in photonic crystal waveguides thanks to the tunability of interactions, allowing us to observe the interaction-induced transparency transition even at low polariton densities.

J. Lang et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 125, 133604 (2020)
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Publication Highlights

Quantum many-body dynamics in two dimensions with artificial neural networks

In the last two decades the field of nonequilibrium quantum many-body systems has seen a rapid development driven, in particular, by the remarkable progress in quantum simulators, which provide access to dynamics in quantum matter with an unprecedented control. However, the efficient numerical simulation of nonequilibrium real-time evolution in isolated quantum matter remains a key challenge for current computational methods especially beyond one spatial dimension. In this work we present a versatile and efficient machine learning inspired approach based on a recently introduced artificial neural network encoding of quantum many-body wave functions. We identify and resolve key challenges for the simulation of real-time evolution, which previously imposed significant limitations on the accurate description of large systems and long-time dynamics. As a concrete example, we study the dynamics of the paradigmatic two-dimensional transverse field Ising model, where we observe collapse and revival oscillations of ferromagnetic order and demonstrate that the reached time scales are comparable to or exceed the capabilities of state-of-the-art tensor network methods.

M. Schmitt and M. Heyl, Phys. Rev. Lett. 125, 100503 (2020)
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Publication Highlights

Realization of an anomalous Floquet topological system with ultracold atoms

Coherent control via periodic modulation, also known as Floquet engineering, has emerged as a powerful experimental method for the realization of novel quantum systems with exotic properties. In particular, it has been employed to study topological phenomena in a variety of different platforms. In driven systems, the topological properties of the quasienergy bands can often be determined by standard topological invariants, such as Chern numbers, which are commonly used in static systems. However, due to the periodic nature of the quasienergy spectrum, this topological description is incomplete and new invariants are required to fully capture the topological properties of these driven settings. Most prominently, there are two-dimensional anomalous Floquet systems that exhibit robust chiral edge modes, despite all Chern numbers being equal to zero. Here we realize such a system with bosonic atoms in a periodically driven honeycomb lattice and infer the complete set of topological invariants from energy gap measurements and local Hall deflections.

Wintersperger et al., Nature Physics (2020)
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Publication Highlights

Excitonic Laughlin states in ideal topological insulator flat bands and their possible presence in moiré superlattice materials

We investigate few- and many-body states in half-filled ideal topological insulator flat bands realized by two degenerate Landau levels which experience opposite magnetic fields. This serves as a toy model of flat bands in moiré materials in which valleys have Chern numbers $C=\pm 1$. We argue that although the spontaneously polarized Ising Chern magnet is a natural ground state for repulsive Coulomb interactions, it can be in reasonable energetic competition with correlated Laughlin states of excitons when short-distance corrections to interactions are included. This is because charge neutral excitons in these bands behave effectively as charged particles in ordinary Landau levels. In particular, the Ising Chern magnet is no longer the ground state once the strength of a short-range intravalley repulsion is about 30% larger than the intervalley repulsion. Remarkably, these excitonic Laughlin states feature valley number fractionalization but no charge fractionalization and a quantized charge Hall conductivity identical to the Ising magnet, $\sigma_{xy}=±e2/h$, and thus cannot be distinguished from it by ordinary charge transport measurements. The Laughlin state with the highest density of excitons that can be constructed in these bands is an analog of $\nu=1/4$ bosonic Laughlin state and has no valley polarization even though it spontaneously breaks time reversal symmetry.

N. Stefanidis and I. Sodemann, Phys. Rev. B 102, 035158 (2020)
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Phase separation provides a mechanism to reduce noise in cells

Expression of proteins inside cells is noisy, causing variability in protein concentration among identical cells. A central problem in cellular control is how cells cope with this inherent noise. Compartmentalization of proteins through phase separation has been suggested as a potential mechanism to reduce noise, but systematic studies to support this idea have been missing. In this study, we used a physical model that links noise in protein concentration to theory of phase separation to show that liquid droplets can effectively reduce noise. We provide experimental support for noise reduction by phase separation using engineered proteins that form liquid-like compartments in mammalian cells. Thus, phase separation can play an important role in biological signal processing and control.

Klosin et al., Science 366, 464 (2020)
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Publication Highlights

Active Forces Shape the Metaphase Spindle through a Mechanical Instability

The metaphase spindle is a dynamic structure orchestrating chromosome segregation during cell division. Recently, soft matter approaches have shown that the spindle behaves as an active liquid crystal. Still, it remains unclear how active force generation contributes to its characteristic spindle-like shape. Here we combine theory and experiments to show that molecular motor-driven forces shape the structure through a barreling-type instability. We test our physical model by titrating dynein activity in Xenopusegg extract spindles and quantifying the shape and microtubule orientation. We conclude that spindles are shaped by the interplay between surface tension, nematic elasticity, and motor-driven active forces. Our study reveals how motor proteins can mold liquid crystalline droplets and has implications for the design of active soft materials.

Oriola et al., PNAS (2020)
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Publication Highlights

Nonlinear Hall Acceleration and the Quantum Rectification Sum Rule

Electrons moving in a Bloch band are known to acquire an anomalous Hall velocity proportional to the Berry curvature of the band which is responsible for the intrinsic linear Hall effect in materials with broken time-reversal symmetry. Here, we demonstrate that there is also an anomalous correction to the electron acceleration which is proportional to the Berry curvature dipole and is responsible for the nonlinear Hall effect recently discovered in materials with broken inversion symmetry. This allows us to uncover a deeper meaning of the Berry curvature dipole as a nonlinear version of the Drude weight that serves as a measurable order parameter for broken inversion symmetry in metals. We also derive a quantum rectification sum rule in time reversal invariant materials by showing that the integral over frequency of the rectification conductivity depends solely on the Berry connection and not on the band energies. The intraband spectral weight of this sum rule is exhausted by the Berry curvature dipole Drude-like peak, and the interband weight is also entirely controlled by the Berry connection. This sum rule opens a door to search for alternative photovoltaic technologies based on the Berry geometry of bands. We also describe the rectification properties of Weyl semimetals which are a promising platform to investigate these effects.

O. Matsyshyn and I. Sodemann, Phys. Rev. Lett 123, 246602 (2019)
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h/e oscillations in interlayer transport of delafossites

Microstructures can be carefully designed to reveal the quantum phase of the wave-like nature of electrons in a metal. Here, we report phase-coherent oscillations of out-of-plane magnetoresistance in the layered delafossites PdCoO2 and PtCoO2. The oscillation period is equivalent to that determined by the magnetic flux quantum, h/e, threading an area defined by the atomic interlayer separation and the sample width, where h is Planck’s constant and e is the charge of an electron. The phase of the electron wave function appears robust over length scales exceeding 10 micrometers and persisting up to temperatures of T > 50 kelvin. We show that the experimental signal stems from a periodic field modulation of the out-of-plane hopping. These results demonstrate extraordinary single-particle quantum coherence lengths in delafossites.

C. Putzke et al., Science 368, 1234 (2020)
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Prethermalization without Temperature

While a clean, driven system generically absorbs energy until it reaches “infinite temperature,” it may do so very slowly exhibiting what is known as a prethermal regime. Here, we show that the emergence of an additional approximately conserved quantity in a periodically driven (Floquet) system can give rise to an analogous long-lived regime. This can allow for nontrivial dynamics, even from initial states that are at a high or infinite temperature with respect to an effective Hamiltonian governing the prethermal dynamics. We present concrete settings with such a prethermal regime, one with a period-doubled (time-crystalline) response. We also present a direct diagnostic to distinguish this prethermal phenomenon from its infinitely long-lived many-body localized cousin. We apply these insights to a model of the recent NMR experiments which, intriguingly, detected signatures of a Floquet time crystal in a clean three-dimensional material. We show that a mild but subtle variation of their driving protocol can increase the lifetime of the time-crystalline signal by orders of magnitude.

D. J. Luitz et al., Phys. Rev. X 10, 021046 (2020)
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Extended Coherently Delocalized States in a Frozen Rydberg Gas

The long-range dipole-dipole interaction can create delocalized states due to the exchange of excitation between Rydberg atoms. We show that even in a random gas many of the single-exciton eigenstates are surprisingly delocalized, composed of roughly one quarter of the participating atoms. We identify two different types of eigenstates: one which stems from strongly-interacting clusters, resulting in localized states, and one which extends over large delocalized networks of atoms. These two types of states can be excited and distinguished by appropriately tuned microwave pulses, and their relative contributions can be modified by the Rydberg blockade and the choice of microwave parameters.

Abumwis et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 124, 193401 (2020)
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