Ultracold bosonic atoms in optical lattices

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Rey, Ana Maria
Kirkpatrick, Theodore R
Clark, Charles W
This thesis covers most of my work in the field of ultracold atoms loaded in optical lattices. It makes a route through the physics of cold atoms in periodic potentials starting from the simple noninteracting system and going into the many-body physics that describes the strongly correlated Mott insulator regime. Even though this thesis is a theoretical work all the chapters are linked either with experiments already done or with ongoing experimental efforts. This thesis can be divided into four different parts. The first part comprises chapters 1 to 3. In these chapters, after a brief introduction to the field of optical lattices I review the fundamental aspects pertaining to the physics of systems in periodic potentials. The second part deals with the superfluid weakly interacting regime where standard mean field techniques can be applied. This is covered in chapters 4 and 5. Specifically, chapter 4 introduces the discrete nonlinear Schroedinger equation (DNLSE) and uses it to model some experiments. In chapter 5 I go one step further and include the small quantum fluctuations neglected in the DNLSE by studying quadratic approximations of the Bose-Hubbard Hamiltonian. Chapters 6 to 8 can be grouped as the third part of the thesis. In them I adopt an effective action formalism, the so called two particle irreducible effective action (2PI) together with the closed time path (CTP) formalism to study far-from-equilibrium dynamics. The many-body techniques discussed in these chapters systematically include higher order quantum corrections, not included in the quadratic approximations of the Hamiltonian, which we show are crucial for a correct description of the quantum dynamics outside the very weakly interacting regime. Finally, chapter 9 to 11 are devoted to study the Mott insulator phase. In these chapters using perturbation theory I study the Mott insulator ground state and its excitation spectrum, the response of the system to Bragg spectroscopy, and propose a mechanism to correct for the residual quantum coherences inherent to the Mott insulator ground state. Even though small these are not ideal for the use of neutral atoms in optical lattice as a tool for quantum computation.