Dislocation-mediated melting of one-dimensional Rydberg crystals
Physical Review B
We consider cold Rydberg atoms in a one-dimensional optical lattice in the Mott regime with a single atom per site at zero temperature. An external laser drive with Rabi frequency \Omega and laser detuning \Delta, creates Rydberg excitations whose dynamics is governed by an effective spin-chain model with (quasi) long-range interactions. This system possesses intrinsically a large degree of frustration resulting in a ground-state phase diagram in the (\Delta,\Omega) plane with a rich topology.
... s a function of \Delta, the Rydberg blockade effect gives rise to a series of crystalline phases commensurate with the optical lattice that form a so-called devil's staircase. The Rabi frequency, \Omega, on the other hand, creates quantum fluctuations that eventually lead to a quantum melting of the crystalline states. Upon increasing \Omega, we find that generically a commensurate-incommensurate transition to a floating Rydberg crystal occurs first, that supports gapless phonon excitations. For even larger \Omega, dislocations within the floating Rydberg crystal start to proliferate and a second, Kosterlitz-Thouless-Nelson-Halperin-Young dislocation-mediated melting transition finally destroys the crystalline arrangement of Rydberg excitations. This latter melting transition is generic for one-dimensional Rydberg crystals and persists even in the absence of an optical lattice. The floating phase and the concomitant transitions can, in principle, be detected by Bragg scattering of light.