Dislocation-mediated melting of one-dimensional Rydberg crystals

Eran Sela, Matthias Punk, Markus Garst
2011 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.
more » ... 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.
doi:10.1103/physrevb.84.085434 fatcat:a4runtg7nnfnbpczqf45c6qnme