Diffusive and arrested transport of atoms under tailored disorder

Fangzhao Alex An, Eric J. Meier, Bryce Gadway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ultracold atoms in optical lattices offer a unique platform for investigating disorder-driven phenomena. While static disordered site potentials have been explored in a number of experiments, a more general, dynamical control over site-energy and off-diagonal tunnelling disorder has been lacking. The use of atomic quantum states as synthetic dimensions has introduced the spectroscopic, site-resolved control necessary to engineer more tailored realisations of disorder. Here, we present explorations of dynamical and tunneling disorder in an atomic system by controlling laser-driven dynamics of atomic population in a momentum-space lattice. By applying static tunnelling phase disorder to a one-dimensional lattice, we observe ballistic quantum spreading. When the applied disorder fluctuates on time scales comparable to intersite tunnelling, we instead observe diffusive atomic transport, signalling a crossover from quantum to classical expansion dynamics. We compare these observations to the case of static site-energy disorder, where we directly observe quantum localisation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number325
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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