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Non-equilibrium universality in driven Rydberg gases


Throughout nature, complex systems are found to exhibit remarkably similar scale-invariant properties that are exceedingly difficult to explain from microscopic principles. Recently we discovered self-organisation and the emergence of scale-invariant behaviour in systems of ultracold atoms driven to Rydberg states by laser fields, providing one of the first controlled experimental realizations of "self-organised criticality" (SOC). In this project we will further develop our level of control of ultracold Rydberg atoms and their theoretical description using renormalization group methods for exploring and understanding complex quantum dynamics in currently poorly-understood regimes. This will enable the first comprehensive determination of the universal properties of self-organised critical systems which can be directly linked to theoretical models derived from the underlying microscopic physics. We also aim to address long standing questions, such as how do quantum fluctuations modify the non-equilibrium universal properties, and explore how self-organising dynamics might be harnessed to engineer complex quantum states.

Principal Investigators

Sebastian Diehl, Universitaet zu Koeln
Shannon Whitlock, Université de Strasbourg

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