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Li, Tracy (2016): Probing Bloch band geometry with ultracold atoms in optical lattices. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Physics



Ultracold atoms in optical lattices have recently emerged as promising candidates for investigating the geometric and topological aspects of band structures. In this thesis, we exploit the high degree of control available in these systems to directly probe the band geometry of an optical honeycomb lattice. In the first series of experiments, we realize an atomic interferometer in quasimomentum space to measure the singular Berry flux associated with a Dirac point. This technique enables us to determine the distribution of Berry curvature in the Brillouin zone with high quasimomentum resolution. Next, we realize strong-force dynamics that are described by matrix-valued Wilson lines, which are generalizations of the Berry phase to degenerate systems. In this strong-force regime, we show that the evolution in the band populations directly reveals the band geometry. This method enables the reconstruction of both the cell-periodic Bloch states at every quasimomentum and the eigenvalues of Wilson-Zak loops. Our techniques can be used to determine the topological invariants, such as the Chern and Z2 numbers, that characterize the band structure. Lastly, having established our ability to detect the band geometry, we present preliminary experiments on engineering band structures.