Finite systems of bosons and/or fermions described by the Hubbard model can be realized using ultracold atoms confined in optical lattices. The ground states of these systems often exhibit a coexistence of compressible superfluid and incompressible Mott insulating domains. We analyze such systems by studying the out-of-equilibrium dynamics following a weak sudden quench of the trapping potential. In particular, we show how the temporal variance of the site occupations reveals the location of spatial boundaries between compressible and incompressible regions. The feasibility of this approach is demonstrated for several models using numerical simulations. We first consider integrable systems, hard-core bosons (spinless fermions) confined by a harmonic potential, where space-separated Mott and superfluid phases coexist. Then, we analyze a nonintegrable system, a J-V-V′ model, with coexisting charge density wave and superfluid phases. We find that the temporal variance of the site occupations is a more effective measure than other standard indicators of phase boundaries such as a local compressibility. Finally, to make contact with experiments, we propose a consistent estimator for such temporal variance. Our numerical experiments show that the phase boundary is correctly spotted using as little as 30 measurements. Based on these results, we argue that analyzing temporal fluctuations is a valuable experimental tool for exploring phase boundaries in trapped atom systems.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Physical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics|
|Publication status||Published - Jun 26 2015|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics