We propose the realization of topological quantum states with cold atoms trapped in an optical lattice. We discuss an experimental setup that generates a two-dimensional hexagonal lattice in the presence of a light-induced periodic vector potential, which represents a realization of the Haldane model with cold atoms. We determine theoretically the conditions necessary for observing the topological states and show that two of the key conditions are: 1) the realization of sharp boundaries and 2) the minimization of any smoothly varying component of the confining potential. We argue that, unlike their condensed matter counterparts, cold atom topological quantum states can be i) seen , by mapping out the characteristic chiral edge states, and ii) controlled, by controlling the periodic vector potential and the properties of the confining potential.
Citation: Physical Review Letters
Pub Type: Journals
graphene, optical lattices, quantum spin Hall effect, spin-orbit interaction, topological insulators