Realizing quantum many-body models with cold atoms coupled to photonic crystals
Authors: J. S. Douglas, H. Habibian, C.-L. Hung, A. V. Gorshkov, H. J. Kimble and D. E. Chang
Journal Ref: arXiv:1312.2435; Nature Photonics 9, 326-331 (2015).
Using cold atoms to simulate strongly interacting quantum systems represents an exciting frontier of physics. However, achieving tunable, coherent long-range interactions between atoms is an outstanding challenge, which currently leaves a large class of models inaccessible to quantum simulation. Here, we propose a solution exploiting the powerful new platform of cold atoms trapped near nano-photonic systems. We show that the dielectric contrast of an atom trapped near a photonic crystal can seed a localized cavity mode around the atomic position. In a dynamic form of “all-atomic” cavity QED, the length of these cavity modes can be tuned, and atoms separated by the order of the effective cavity length can interact coherently with each other. Considering realistic conditions such as fabrication disorder and photon losses, coherent long-range potentials or spin interactions can be dominant in the system over length scales up to hundreds of wavelengths.