Engineering a Flux-Dependent Mobility Edge in Disordered Zigzag Chains

Fangzhao Alex An, Eric J. Meier, Bryce Gadway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There has been great interest in experimental studies of charged particles in artificial gauge fields. Here, we perform the first cold-atom explorations of the combination of artificial gauge fields and disorder. Using synthetic lattice techniques based on parametrically coupled atomic momentum states, we engineer zigzag chains with a tunable homogeneous flux. The breaking of time-reversal symmetry by the applied flux leads to analogs of spin-orbit coupling and spin-momentum locking, which we observe directly through the chiral dynamics of atoms initialized to single lattice sites. We additionally introduce precisely controlled disorder in the site-energy landscape, allowing us to explore the interplay of disorder and large effective magnetic fields. The combination of correlated disorder and controlled intrarow and interrow tunneling in this system naturally supports energy-dependent localization, relating to a single-particle mobility edge. We measure the localization properties of the extremal eigenstates of this system, the ground state and the most-excited state, and demonstrate clear evidence for a flux-dependent mobility edge. These measurements constitute the first direct evidence for energy-dependent localization in a lower-dimensional system, as well as the first explorations of the combined influence of artificial gauge fields and engineered disorder. Moreover, we provide direct evidence for interaction shifts of the localization transitions for both low- and high-energy eigenstates in correlated disorder, relating to the presence of a many-body mobility edge. The unique combination of strong interactions, controlled disorder, and tunable artificial gauge fields present in this synthetic lattice system should enable myriad explorations into intriguing correlated transport phenomena.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number031045
JournalPhysical Review X
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 17 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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