Experimental realization of strong effective magnetic fields in an optical lattice

Phys Rev Lett. 2011 Dec 16;107(25):255301. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.107.255301. Epub 2011 Dec 12.


We use Raman-assisted tunneling in an optical superlattice to generate large tunable effective magnetic fields for ultracold atoms. When hopping in the lattice, the accumulated phase shift by an atom is equivalent to the Aharonov-Bohm phase of a charged particle exposed to a staggered magnetic field of large magnitude, on the order of 1 flux quantum per plaquette. We study the ground state of this system and observe that the frustration induced by the magnetic field can lead to a degenerate ground state for noninteracting particles. We provide a measurement of the local phase acquired from Raman-induced tunneling, demonstrating time-reversal symmetry breaking of the underlying Hamiltonian. Furthermore, the quantum cyclotron orbit of single atoms in the lattice exposed to the magnetic field is directly revealed.