Quantum simulations of lattice gauge theories using ultracold atoms in optical lattices

Erez Zohar, J. Ignacio Cirac, Benni Reznik

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320 Scopus citations


Can high-energy physics be simulated by low-energy, non-relativistic, many-body systems such as ultracold atoms? Such ultracold atomic systems lack the type of symmetries and dynamical properties of high energy physics models: in particular, they manifest neither local gauge invariance nor Lorentz invariance, which are crucial properties of the quantum field theories which are the building blocks of the standard model of elementary particles. However, it turns out, surprisingly, that there are ways to configure an atomic system to manifest both local gauge invariance and Lorentz invariance. In particular, local gauge invariance can arise either as an effective low-energy symmetry, or as an exact symmetry, following from the conservation laws in atomic interactions. Hence, one could hope that such quantum simulators may lead to a new type of (table-top) experiments which will be used to study various QCD (quantum chromodynamics) phenomena, such as the confinement of dynamical quarks, phase transitions and other effects, which are inaccessible using the currently known computational methods. In this report, we review the Hamiltonian formulation of lattice gauge theories, and then describe our recent progress in constructing the quantum simulation of Abelian and non-Abelian lattice gauge theories in 1 + 1 and 2 + 1 dimensions using ultracold atoms in optical lattices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number014401
JournalReports on Progress in Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 18 Dec 2015


  • high-energy physics
  • lattice gauge theory
  • optical lattices
  • quantum simulation
  • quark confinement
  • ultracold atoms


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