Measuring the momentum distribution of a lattice gas at the single-atom level

Hugo Cayla 1
1 Laboratoire Charles Fabry / Optique atomique
LCF - Laboratoire Charles Fabry
Abstract : In this thesis, we report the demonstration of a detection technique able to probe, with a single-atom sensitivity, the momentum distribution of an ultracold gas loaded inside a 3D optical lattice. We have developed a micro-channel plate detector, able to electronically probe clouds of metastable Helium-4. The gas is detected after a time-of-flight of 325ms, long enough to reach the far-field expansion, where the spatial distribution of the cloud can be mapped to the asymptotic momentum distribution. By putting ourselves in a regime where the lattice filling is close to unity, the atomic collisions in the first instant of the expansion become negligible, so that the asymptotic momentum distribution is equal to the in situ momentum distribution. We experimentally demonstrate this equality, by comparing our far-field measurements with the momentum distribution calculated from the Bose-Hubbard Hamiltonian, thanks to ab initio quantum Monte Carlo simulations. We show a good agreement with the theory over more than 3 orders of magnitude in density. Those simulations are calculated with our experimental parameters, the temperature being the only adjustable variable. We then use this comparison to perform a precise thermometry of the lattice gas, allowing us to explore the superfluid-normal gas transition through a direct measurement of different quantities, like the condensed fraction or the two-particles correlation function.
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Hugo Cayla. Measuring the momentum distribution of a lattice gas at the single-atom level. Optics [physics.optics]. Université Paris-Saclay, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018SACLO005⟩. ⟨tel-02012074⟩

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