We study the transverse expansion of arrays of ultracold Rb87 atoms weakly confined in tubes created by a 2D optical lattice and observe that transverse expansion is delayed because of mutual atom interactions. A mean-field model of a coupled array shows that atoms become localized within a roughly square fortlike self-trapping barrier with time-evolving edges. But the observed dynamics are poorly described by the mean-field model. The theoretical introduction of random phase fluctuations among tubes improves the agreement with experiment but does not correctly predict the density at which the atoms start to expand with larger lattice depths. Our results suggest a new type of self-trapping, where quantum correlations suppress tunneling even when there are no density gradients.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)