We use quantum Monte Carlo simulations to obtain zero-temperature state diagrams for strongly correlated lattice bosons in one and two dimensions under the influence of a harmonic confining potential. Since harmonic traps generate a coexistence of superfluid and Mott insulating domains, we use local quantities such as the quantum fluctuations of the density and a local compressibility to identify the phases present in the inhomogeneous density profiles. We emphasize the use of the "characteristic density" to produce a state diagram that is relevant to experimental optical lattice systems, regardless of the number of bosons or trap curvature and of the validity of the local-density approximation. We show that the critical value of U/t at which Mott insulating domains appear in the trap depends on the filling in the system, and it is in general greater than the value in the homogeneous system. Recent experimental results by Spielman [Phys. Rev. Lett. 100, 120402 (2008)] are analyzed in the context of our two-dimensional state diagram, and shown to exhibit a value for the critical point in good agreement with simulations. We also study the effects of finite, but low (T≤t/2), temperatures. We find that in two dimensions they have little influence on our zero-temperature results, while their effect is more pronounced in one dimension.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Physical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics|
|State||Published - May 1 2009|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics