Thesis Defense

Modifying spin diffusion in a nondegenerate ultracold gas

Monday, 09 December 2019 02:00PM PST
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Thesis Defense

Sean Graham
Department of Physics, SFU

Modifying spin diffusion in a nondegenerate ultracold gas

Dec 9, 2019 at 2:00pm in Library Thesis Defense Room

Synopsis

Diffusion plays a major role in describing how gases and heat move in any nonequilibrium system. The diffusion of quantum properties is not as well understood as the diffusion of classical properties, especially at low temperatures or high densities. Exploring the diffusion of the quantum property known as a spin is beneficial for explaining the quantum effects that arise at low temperatures or high densities, and the knowledge could assist in the development of new ultra-low-power devices. This thesis studies spin diffusion at various temperatures and densities by using the highly tunable experimental platform of ultracold atoms.

One million rubidium-87 atoms are cooled to nano-kelvin temperatures to create an ultracold gas, where quantum interactions between atoms can significantly modify spin diffusion compared to classical diffusion. One-dimensional spin diffusion is observed for an initial two-domain spin profile. Remarkably, diffusion of this spin profile is slowed at temperatures above quantum degeneracy, where the ultracold gas is largely classical but with quantum collisions. We demonstrate this slowing of spin diffusion is due to the presence of spin coherence between the spin domains, and the removal of coherence is shown to speed spin diffusion to classical timescales.

Spin diffusion is further modified by applying a linear differential potential that can speed, slow, or stop spin diffusion of a two-domain spin profile. Differential potentials spatially alter the precession of spins, which then alters the spin-rotating quantum collisions that modify spin diffusion. For a linear differential potential with a specific sign and magnitude, stabilized spin domains in an ultracold gas are observed for 40 times longer than classical diffusion timescales.

In addition to modifying spin diffusion with coherence and differential potentials, we demonstrate arbitrary control of one-dimensional spin diffusion with temporally varying differential potentials and three-domain spin profiles. These spin diffusion modifying techniques could be useful for manipulating spin in other nonequilibrium systems, and it sets the stage for simulating spin-based devices in ultracold atoms.

Keywords: ultracold atoms, spin diffusion, spin transport, nondegenerate, nonequilibrium