Lightspeed at a snail's pace: Relativity meets ultracold physics

Lincoln D. Carr, Laith H. Haddad, Christopher M. Weaver, Kenneth O'Hara

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) are a macroscopic state of quantum matter at temperatures nine orders of magnitude colder than outer space. BECs can be trapped in crystals of light: when the crystal takes the form of a honeycomb optical lattice, Dirac physics arises at the Brillouin zone edges, just like in graphene. The weakly interacting quantum gas comprising the BEC generates an effective nonlinearity, giving rise to the nonlinear Dirac equation (NLDE) [1], as we will show. This equation, together with the relativistic linear stability equations (RLSE) [2], comprise a relativistic generalization of the famous nonlinear Schrodinger equation and Boguliubov-de Gennes equations familiar from, for example, propagation of light in Kerr nonlinear media. We present a zoo of exotic vortex [3], skyrmion, and soliton [4,5] solutions to the NLDE+RLSE system, and explain the practical realization of these concepts in present experiments on BECs in the optical equivalent of 2D graphene and 1D armchair and zigzag graphene nanoribbons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLaser Science, LS 2014
PublisherOptical Society of America (OSA)
ISBN (Electronic)1557522863
StatePublished - Oct 14 2014
EventLaser Science, LS 2014 - Tucson, United States
Duration: Oct 19 2014Oct 23 2014

Publication series

NameLaser Science, LS 2014


OtherLaser Science, LS 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials


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