Quasi-One-Dimensional Ultracold Fermi Gases
Revelle, Melissa C
Hulet, Randall G
Doctor of Philosophy
Ultracold atoms have become an essential tool in studying condensed matter phenomena. The advantage of atomic physics experiments is that they provide an easily tunable system. This experiment uses the lowest two ground state hyperfine levels of fermionic lithium. Having two different states creates a pseudo-spin-1/2 system and allows us to emulate electronic systems, such as superconductors and crystal lattices. In our experiment, we can control the ratio between these two states resulting in either a spin-balanced or a spin-imbalanced gas. Imposing an imbalance is analogous to applying a magnetic field to a superconductor which causes the electrons in the material to align to the field (thus breaking the electron pairs which cause superconductivity). This motivates us to understand the phases created when a spin-imbalance is created and the effect of changing the atomic interactions. In a 3D system, we find where superfluidity is suppressed throughout the BEC to BCS crossover. Using phase separation as a guide, we probe the dimensional crossover between 1D and 3D. The phase separation in 1D is inverted from that in 3D, which provides a unique characteristic to distinguish between the dimensions. By varying the tunneling between tubes and the atomic interactions in a 2D optical lattice, we control whether the system is 1D, 3D, or in between. Using the properties of a 3D gas as a guide, we directly observe when the gas has crossed over from being dominated by 1D-like behavior to 3D. In this way, we have found a universal value for the dimensional crossover. The 1D-3D crossover paves the way to search for the exotic FFLO (Fulde-Ferrell-Larkin-Ovchinnikov) superconductor. While most superconductors do not coexist with magnetism, the FFLO phase requires large magnetic fields to support its pairing mechanism. Additionally, this phase is more likely to be found in lower dimensional systems. However, at low dimensions, the effect of temperature fluctuations on the phase is destabilizing, but these temperature effects are reduced with higher dimensionality. Thus, the quasi-1D regime is the optimal region of parameter space to find this phase. The search for direct evidence of FFLO continues in this regime.