ProjectTailored quantum matter for sensing and fundamental physics

Basic data

Tailored quantum matter for sensing and fundamental physics
01/03/2021 to 28/02/2024
Abstract / short description:
This project builds on a new capability to create and control artificial interacting quantum systems that is assembled atom-by-atom. The central objective is to use these capabilities for a proof-of-concept demonstration of a new form of sensing device that allows to detect radiation in the terahertz regime. This frequency range is of current technological relevance, but detectors for low intensity terahertz fields are still much sought-after. The platform on which this research is realised is a so-called Rydberg quantum simulator. It consists of a two-dimensional array of atoms, held by optical traps, which are excited via lasers to high-lying electronic states (Rydberg states). These atoms interact strongly which results in complex non-equilibrium behaviour. This becomes manifest in so-called phase transitions, near which the state of the Rydberg quantum simulator becomes highly sensitive to external perturbations. In the extreme case this may allow a single terahertz photon to effectuate an easily detectable macroscopic response.

Supported by an internationally renowned expert on collective phenomena in many-body systems – Prof. J.P. Garrahan from the University of Nottingham (GB) – we will lay the foundations of such a collectively enhanced terahertz detector. To this end we follow two routes. The first approach is an avalanche terahertz detector that is based on a nucleation and growth dynamics of Rydberg atoms triggered by terahertz photons. The second approach exploits an artificially engineered phase transition dynamics via a so-called reset protocol.

Beyond its technological relevance our strongly interconnected theory-experiment research programme will break new ground our fundamental understanding quantum many-body physics and pave the way towards the creation and study of exotic forms of non-equilibrium matter, such as time crystals.

Involved staff


Institute for Theoretical Physics (ITP)
Department of Physics, Faculty of Science

Contact persons

Institute of Physics (PIT)
Department of Physics, Faculty of Science

Other staff

Institute for Theoretical Physics (ITP)
Department of Physics, Faculty of Science

Local organizational units

Institute for Theoretical Physics (ITP)
Department of Physics
Faculty of Science


Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

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