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Quantum simulation of ultrafast dynamics using trapped ultracold atoms.

  • Author(s): Senaratne, Ruwan
  • Rajagopal, Shankari V
  • Shimasaki, Toshihiko
  • Dotti, Peter E
  • Fujiwara, Kurt M
  • Singh, Kevin
  • Geiger, Zachary A
  • Weld, David M
  • et al.

Ultrafast electronic dynamics are typically studied using pulsed lasers. Here we demonstrate a complementary experimental approach: quantum simulation of ultrafast dynamics using trapped ultracold atoms. Counter-intuitively, this technique emulates some of the fastest processes in atomic physics with some of the slowest, leading to a temporal magnification factor of up to 12 orders of magnitude. In these experiments, time-varying forces on neutral atoms in the ground state of a tunable optical trap emulate the electric fields of a pulsed laser acting on bound charged particles. We demonstrate the correspondence with ultrafast science by a sequence of experiments: nonlinear spectroscopy of a many-body bound state, control of the excitation spectrum by potential shaping, observation of sub-cycle unbinding dynamics during strong few-cycle pulses, and direct measurement of carrier-envelope phase dependence of the response to an ultrafast-equivalent pulse. These results establish cold-atom quantum simulation as a complementary tool for studying ultrafast dynamics.

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