The dynamics of an ultracold dilute gas of bosonic atoms in an optical lattice can be described by a Bose-Hubbard model where the system parameters are controlled by laser light. We study the continuous (zero temperature) quantum phase transition from the superfluid to the Mott insulator phase induced by varying the depth of the optical potential, where the Mott insulator phase corresponds to a commensurate filling of the lattice (“optical crystal”). Examples for formation of Mott structures in optical lattices with a superimposed harmonic trap and in optical superlattices are presented.
- Received 26 May 1998
- Published in the issue dated 12 October 1998
© 1998 The American Physical Society