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Unitary p-wave interactions between fermions in an optical lattice

Researchers study how isolated pairs of atoms interact with each other. Namely, they observed a theoretical limit of p-wave forces for the first time. This paper provides insight into quantum simulations.

Publication Date: January 11, 2023

Authors: Vijin Venu, Peihang Xu, Mikhail Mamaev, Frank Corapi, Thomas Bilitewski, Jose P. D’Incao, Cora J. Fujiwara (CQIQC Fellowship Holder 20-22), Ana Maria Rey & Joseph H. Thywissen (CQIQC Member).


Exchange-antisymmetric pair wavefunctions in fermionic systems can give rise to unconventional superconductors and superfluids. The realization of these states in controllable quantum systems, such as ultracold gases, could enable new types of quantum simulations topological quantum gates and exotic few-body states. However, p-wave and other antisymmetric interactions are weak in naturally occurring systems and their enhancement via Feshbach resonances in ultracold systems has been limited by three-body loss. 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 models 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 engineering.

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