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Magnetism in triangular and hexagonal optical lattices

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Magnetism plays a key role in modern technology and stimulates research in several branches of condensed matter physics. Although the theory of classical magnetism is well developed, the demonstration of a widely tunable experimental system has remained an elusive goal. We present the realization of a large-scale simulator for classical magnetism on a triangular lattice by exploiting the particular properties of a quantum system [1]. We use the motional degrees of freedom of atoms trapped in an optical lattice to simulate a large variety of magnetic phases: ferromagnetic, antiferromagnetic, and even frustrated spin configurations. A rich phase diagram is revealed with different types of phase transitions. Our results provide a route to study highly debated phases like spin-liquids as well as the dynamics of quantum phase transitions.

[1] Struck et al., Science, 21 July 2011 (10.1126/science.1207239)

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