Mobility edges in one-dimensional bichromatic incommensurate potentials

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number085119
Journal / PublicationPhysical Review B
Issue number8
Online published14 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


We theoretically study a one-dimensional (1D) mutually incommensurate bichromatic lattice system, which has been implemented in ultracold atoms to study quantum localization. It has been universally believed that the tight-binding version of this bichromatic incommensurate system is represented by the well-known Aubry-Andre model capturing all the essential localization physics in the experimental cold atom optical lattice system. Here we establish that this belief is incorrect and that the Aubry-Andre model description, which applies only in the extreme tight-binding limit of a very deep primary lattice potential, generically breaks down near the localization transition due to the unavoidable appearance of single-particle mobility edges (SPME). In fact, we show that the 1D bichromatic incommensurate potential system manifests generic mobility edges, which disappear in the tight-binding limit, leading to the well-studied Aubry-Andre physics. We carry out an extensive study of the localization properties of the 1D incommensurate optical lattice without making any tight-binding approximation. We find that, for the full lattice system, an intermediate phase between completely localized and completely delocalized regions appears due to the existence of the SPME, making the system qualitatively distinct from the Aubry-Andre prediction. Using the Wegner flow approach, we show that the SPME in the real lattice system can be attributed to significant corrections of higher-order harmonics in the lattice potential, which are absent in the strict tight-binding limit. We calculate the dynamical consequences of the intermediate phase in detail to guide future experimental investigations for the observation of 1D SPME and the associated intermediate (i.e., neither purely localized nor purely delocalized) phase. We consider effects of interaction numerically, and conjecture the stability of SPME to weak interaction effects, thus leading to the exciting possibility of an experimentally viable nonergodic extended phase in interacting 1D optical lattices. Our work provides precise quantitative protocols for future optical lattice based experiments searching for mobility edges in one-dimensional bichromatic incommensurate lattices, both in noninteracting and interacting systems.

Citation Format(s)

Mobility edges in one-dimensional bichromatic incommensurate potentials. / Li, Xiao; Li, Xiaopeng; Das Sarma, S.

In: Physical Review B, Vol. 96, No. 8, 085119, 15.08.2017.

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review