Atomic quantum gases in optical lattices serve as a versatile testbed for important concepts of modern condensed-matter physics. The availability of methods to characterize strongly correlated phases is crucial for the study of these systems. Diffraction techniques to reveal long-range spatial structure, which may complement in situ detection methods, have been largely unexplored. Here we experimentally demonstrate that Bragg diffraction of neutral atoms can be used for this purpose. Using a one-dimensional Bose gas as a source of matter waves, we are able to infer the spatial ordering and on-site localization of atoms confined to an optical lattice. We also study the suppression of inelastic scattering between incident matter waves and the lattice-trapped atoms, occurring for increased lattice depth. Furthermore, we use atomic de Broglie waves to detect forced antiferromagnetic ordering in an atomic spin mixture, demonstrating the suitability of our method for the non-destructive detection of spin-ordered phases in strongly correlated atomic gases.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)