Erbium offers an exciting opportunity to extend previous work in single-site imaging of quantum gases. Being highly dipolar, Erbium atoms interact via the long-range and anisotropic dipole force which gives rise to new emergent phenomena that do not arise in systems with only short-range interactions. The rich electronic structure of Erbium contains narrow transitions that can be used to create ultra-cold clouds directly via laser cooling. On the other hand, the broad transitions permit the implementation of ultra-fast imaging schemes. Since Erbium has multiple isotopes, there are various possibilities for studying lattice physics with either bosonic or fermionic statistics. With an erbium quantum gas microscope, we plan on studying aspects of magnetism, spin-orbit coupling, and novel phases of matter.
A 2D tunable ‘accordion’ lattice is important for having strong dipolar interactions at short lattice spacings and near-perfect imaging fidelities at longer lattice spacings. Our approach uses an interferometrically aligned beamsplitter to create a pair of lattice beams whose phase difference remains constant across its entire aperture. We move the input beam with a galvanometer that changes the beam height without altering its angle. Together, the galvo and beamsplitter allow for the creation of a lattice whose spacing can be changed significantly without any fringe shift.
We generate a BEC of Erbium atoms with high condensate fraction in an optical dipole trap loaded from a narrow line magneto-optical trap. Thanks to fast evaporative cooling and narrow lines, experimental cycle times are significantly lower than other quantum gas microscopes.
The Erbium experiment is well-equipped to study Fermionic, Bosonic, and dipolar physics. Site resolved imaging of dipoles on a lattice combined with long coherence times allows us to study Hubbard model physics enriched by long-range and anisotropic dipolar interactions. Synthetic gauge field physics is another exciting avenue for future work, having narrow transitions to generate Raman couplings and the advantage of low heating rates.