Dynamical crossover between the infinite-volume and empty-lattice limits of ultra-cold fermions in 1D optical lattices
1 Theoretical Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory - MS B213, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA
2 Department of Physics, University of California - San Diego, CA 92093, USA
Received: 20 April 2012
Accepted: 23 July 2012
Unlike typical condensed-matter systems, ultra-cold atoms loaded into optical lattices allow separate control of both the particle number and system size. As a consequence, there are two distinct “thermodynamic” limits that can be defined for these systems: i) “infinite-volume limit” at constant finite density, and ii) “empty-lattice limit” at constant particle number. To probe the difference between these two limits and their crossover, we consider a partially occupied lattice and study the transport of non-interacting fermions and fermions interacting at the mean-field level into the unoccupied region. In the infinite-volume limit, a finite steady-state current emerges. On the other hand, in the empty-lattice limit there is no finite steady-state current. By changing the initial filling, we find a smooth crossover between the two limits. Our predictions may be verified using available experimental tools and demonstrate a fundamental difference between isolated small systems such as ultra-cold atoms and conventional condensed-matter systems.
PACS: 05.60.Gg – Quantum transport / 67.10.Jn – Transport properties and hydrodynamics / 72.10.-d – Theory of electronic transport; scattering mechanisms
© EPLA, 2012