Designing exotic many-body states of atomic spin and motion in photonic crystals
20 August 2017
Cold atoms coupled to photonic crystals constitute an exciting platform for exploring quantum many-body physics. Here we investigate the strong coupling between atomic internal ("spin") degrees of freedom and motion, which arises from spin-dependent forces associated with the exchange of guided photons. We show that this system can realize a remarkable and extreme limit of quantum spin-orbital systems, where both the direct spin exchange between neighboring sites and the kinetic energy of the orbital motion vanish. We find that this previously unexplored system has a rich phase diagram of emergent orders, including spatially dimerized spin-entangled pairs, a fluid of composite particles comprised of joint spin-phonon excitations, phonon-induced Neel ordering, and a fractional magnetization plateau associated with trimer formation.