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The Spin Hall Effect in a Quantum Gas



Matthew C. Beeler, Ross A. Williams, Karina K. Jimenez Garcia, Lindsay J. LeBlanc, Abigail R. Perry, Ian B. Spielman


Electronic properties like current flow are usually unaffected by the electron’s spin angular momentum, an internal degree of freedom present in quantum particles that can usually be either “up” or “down”. The spin-Hall effects (SHEs), first proposed 40 years ago [1, 2], are an unusual class of phenomena where currents of flowing particles can induce orthogonally di- rected Lorentz-like forces, opposite in sign for the two spin states: current-dependent “spin- motive forces” [3, 4] analogous to the Hall effect’s current-dependent “electro-motive force.” Such spin-Hall effects have been observed for electrons flowing in materials such as GaAs or InGaAs [5, 6]; for laser light traversing dielectric junctions [7]; and now for the first time in quantum gases moving through an optical field. By engineering a spatially inhomogenous spin-orbit coupling field for our quantum gas, we explicitly introduce and measure the req- uisite spin-dependent Lorentz forces (in excellent agreement with our calculations). This technique – for both creating and measuring the SHE – is a clear prerequisite for design- ing topological insulators [8–10]and detecting their associated quantized spin-Hall effects [9] in quantum gases. Even as constructed, our system realizes an analog to the Datta-Das spin transistor, here actuated by laser fields.


quantum simulation, spin-hall effect, spintronics, synthetic gauge fields, ultracold gases


Beeler, M. , Williams, R. , Jimenez, K. , LeBlanc, L. , Perry, A. and Spielman, I. (2013), The Spin Hall Effect in a Quantum Gas, Nature, [online], (Accessed May 21, 2024)


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Created June 13, 2013, Updated November 10, 2018