Effective quantum spin systems with trapped ions

Phys Rev Lett. 2004 May 21;92(20):207901. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.92.207901. Epub 2004 May 20.


We show that the physical system consisting of trapped ions interacting with lasers may undergo a rich variety of quantum phase transitions. By changing the laser intensities and polarizations the dynamics of the internal states of the ions can be controlled, in such a way that an Ising or Heisenberg-like interaction is induced between effective spins. Our scheme allows us to build an analogue quantum simulator of spin systems with trapped ions, and observe and analyze quantum phase transitions with unprecedented opportunities for the measurement and manipulation of spins.