Welcome to Prof. Tilman Esslinger's Quantum Optics Group
In our research we use ultracold atoms to synthetically create key models in quantum many-body physics. The properties of the trapped quantum gases are governed by the interplay between atomic motion and a well characterized interaction between the particles. This conceptual simplicity is unique in experimental physics and provides a direct link between the experiment and the model describing the system. It enables us to shine new light on a wide range of fundamental phenomena and address open challenges. We explore the physics of quantum phase transitions and crossovers, low-dimensional systems and non-equilibrium dynamics, and thereby establish the basis for quantum simulation of many-body Hamiltonians.
For example, by loading a quantum degenerate gas of potassium atoms into the periodic potential of an optical lattice we realize Hubbard models with atoms and access superfluid, metallic and Mott-insulating phases. A many-body system with infinitely long-range interactions is formed by trapping a Bose-Einstein condensate inside an optical cavity, which has allowed us to observe the Dicke quantum phase transition from a normal to a superradiant phase. We also work on extending the concepts of quantum simulations to device-like structures connected to atomic reservoirs, using a combination of high-resolution microscopy and transport measurements.