Degenerate mixtures of rubidium and ytterbium for engineering open quantum systems

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Vaidya, Varun Dilip
Porto, James V
Rolston, Steven L
In the last two decades, experimental progress in controlling cold atoms and ions now allows us to manipulate fragile quantum systems with an unprecedented degree of precision. This has been made possible by the ability to isolate small ensembles of atoms and ions from noisy environments, creating truly closed quantum systems which decouple from dissipative channels. However in recent years, several proposals have considered the possibility of harnessing dissipation in open systems, not only to cool degenerate gases to currently unattainable temperatures, but also to engineer a variety of interesting many-body states. This thesis will describe progress made towards building a degenerate gas apparatus that will soon be capable of realizing these proposals. An ultracold gas of ytterbium atoms, trapped by a species-selective lattice will be immersed into a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) of rubidium atoms which will act as a bath. Here we describe the challenges encountered in making a degenerate mixture of rubidium and ytterbium atoms and present two experiments performed on the path to creating a controllable open quantum system. The first experiment will describe the measurement of a tune-out wavelength where the light shift of $\Rb{87}$ vanishes. This wavelength was used to create a species-selective trap for ytterbium atoms. Furthermore, the measurement of this wavelength allowed us to extract the dipole matrix element of the $5s \rightarrow 6p$ transition in $\Rb{87}$ with an extraordinary degree of precision. Our method to extract matrix elements has found use in atomic clocks where precise knowledge of transition strengths is necessary to account for minute blackbody radiation shifts. The second experiment will present the first realization of a degenerate Bose-Fermi mixture of rubidium and ytterbium atoms. Using a three-color optical dipole trap (ODT), we were able to create a highly-tunable, species-selective potential for rubidium and ytterbium atoms which allowed us to use $\Rb{87}$ to sympathetically cool $\Yb{171}$ to degeneracy with minimal loss. This mixture is the first milestone creating the lattice-bath system and will soon be used to implement novel cooling schemes and explore the rich physics of dissipation.