Quantum simulations of gauge theories with ultracold atoms: Local gauge invariance from angular-momentum conservation

Erez Zohar, J. Ignacio Cirac, Benni Reznik

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153 Scopus citations


Quantum simulations of high-energy physics, and especially of gauge theories, is an emerging and exciting direction in quantum simulations. However, simulations of such theories, compared to simulations of condensed matter physics, must satisfy extra restrictions, such as local gauge invariance and relativistic structure. In this paper we discuss these special requirements, and present a method for quantum simulation of lattice gauge theories using ultracold atoms. This method allows us to include local gauge invariance as a fundamental symmetry of the atomic Hamiltonian, arising from natural atomic interactions and conservation laws (and not as a property of a low-energy sector). This allows us to implement elementary gauge invariant interactions for three lattice gauge theories: U(1) (compact QED), ZN and SU(N) (Yang-Mills), which can be used to build quantum simulators in 1+1 dimensions. We also present a loop method, which uses the elementary interactions as building blocks in the effective construction of quantum simulations for d+1 dimensional lattice gauge theories (d>1), but unlike in previous proposals, here gauge invariance and Gauss's law are natural symmetries, which do not have to be imposed as a constraint. We discuss in detail the quantum simulation of 2+1 dimensional compact QED and provide a numerical proof of principle. The simplicity of the already gauge-invariant elementary interactions of this model suggests it may be useful for future experimental realizations.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number023617
JournalPhysical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 27 Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


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