Abstract

In this thesis, we discuss quantum phase transitions in low-dimensional optical lattices, namely one- and two-dimensional lattices. The dimensional confinement is realized in experiments by suppressing the hopping in the extra dimensions through a deep potential barrier that prevents the atoms to tunnel across dimensions. The dimensionality considerably affects the
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physical behavior of the system. For instance, in one dimension, the celebrated Fermi-liquid theory does not describe the many-body behavior of a fermionic system. There are no single particle excitations, but instead collective behavior, and spin and charge degrees of freedom are decoupled . In the first part of this thesis, we consider one-dimensional fermionic gases under the effect of time-dependent driving forces. First, we describe a proposal to realize non-standard Hubbard models that display correlated-hopping terms by modulating interactions through a time-dependent magnetic field. The extra terms describe hopping processes that depend on the particle-density difference in neighboring sites. The effective model is obtained in arbitrary spatial dimensions, but only in one-dimension it is known to be exactly solvable for specific values of the parameters. Moreover, an SU(2) symmetry in the charge sector allows to construct non-trivial superconducting eigenstates (eta-states), discovered by Yang as excited states of the Hubbard model. Then, we study a one-dimensional bipartite optical lattice with fermionic atoms at half-filling. The lattice potential barriers have heights alternating in magnitude. As a consequence, the hopping amplitudes also alternate in magnitude and the elementary unit cell has two sites. This system is known to display Peierls dimerization at half-filling: the fermions form dimers in neighboring sites that inhibit transport and open a gap in the spectrum. After applying shaking on this system we discover that one can dynamically induce a phase transition to an unconventional metallic state with four Fermi-points. The second part of this thesis describes bosonic systems in two-dimensional optical lattices. First, we consider a square optical lattice with alternating deep-shallow wells arranged in a checkerboard pattern. This lattice is realized in the experimental laboratory of Prof. Hemmerich in Hamburg. In the experiment, the visibility is extracted from the time-of-flight imaging to quantify the phase coherence of the bosonic gas. We develop a mean-field theory and determine the phase diagram of this model. We interpret the experimental data by assuming that at large detuning, only the deeper wells are populated and form an imbalanced Mott insulator with empty shallow wells and integer density on the deeper wells. We support this hypothesis by large-scale Gutzwiller calculations. Then, we investigate a system of bosons in the Lieb lattice, which is the lattice geometry of the Cu-O plane in cuprates . We consider configurations of the optical potential where s and p orbitals sitting on neighboring wells become resonant and hybridize. The interest in this problem comes from the possibility to realize time-reversal broken phases, usually known as Varma phases for electronic systems, which have been proposed to explain the pseudo-gap regime of cuprate superconductors. We show the conditions under which the symmetry breaking in a four-band model can lead to states with loop currents. Moreover, the lowest branch of the excitation spectrum has a non-vanishing Chern number and therefore supports topological excitations.
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