Ultra-cold quantum gases subjected to light-induced synthetic gauge potentials have become an emergent field of theoretical and experimental studies. Because of the novel application of two-photon Raman transitions, ultra-cold neutral atoms behave like charged particles in magnetic field. The Raman coupling naturally gives rise to an effective spin-orbit interaction which couples the atom’s center-of-mass motion to its selected pseudo-spin degrees of freedom. Combined with unprecedented controllability of interactions, geometry, disorder strength, spectroscopy, and high resolution measurement of momentum distribution, etc., we are truly in an exciting era of ful- filling and going beyond Richard Feynman’s vision of realizing quantum simulators to better understand the quantum mechanical nature of the universe, manifested immensely in the ultra-cold regimes.
In this dissertation, we present a collection of theoretical progresses made by the doctoral candidate and his colleagues and collaborators. From the past few years of work, we mainly address three aspects of the synthetic spin-orbit and light field induced coupling in ultracold quantum gases: a) The ground-state physics of single- particle system, two-body bound states, and many-body systems, all of which are subjected to spin-orbit coupling originated from synthetic gauge potentials; b) The symmetry breaking, topological phase transition and quench dynamics, which are conveniently offered by the realized experimental setup; c) The proposal and impli- cations of light field induced dynamical spin-orbit coupling for atoms inside optical cavity. Our work represents an important advancement of theoretical understanding to the active research frontier of ultra-cold atom physics with spin-orbit coupling.