Dark state optical lattice with sub-wavelength spatial structure
Sarthak Subhankar, Tsz-Chun Tsui, James V. Porto, Steve Rolston, Przemek BIenias, Alexey V. Gorshkov, Mateusz Lacki, Michael Baranov, Peter Zoller
We report on the experimental realization of a conservative optical lattice for cold atoms with sub-wavelength spatial structure. The potential is based on the nonlinear optical response of three- level atoms in laser-dressed dark states, which is not constrained by the diffraction limit of the light generating the potential. The lattice consists of a 1D array of ultra-narrow barriers with widths less than 10 nm, well below the wavelength of the lattice light, physically realizing a Kronig-Penney-like potential. We study the band structure and dissipation of this lattice, and find good agreement with theoretical predictions. The observed lifetimes of atoms trapped in the lattice are as long as 60 ms, nearly 105 times the excited state lifetime, and could be further improved with more laser intensity. The potential is readily generalizable to higher dimension and different geometries, allowing, for example, nearly perfect box traps, narrow tunnel junctions for atomtronics applications, and dynamically generated lattices with sub-wavelength spacings.