Realization of Translational Symmetry in Trapped Cold Ion Rings


We crystallize up to 15 $^{40}$Ca$^+$ ions in a ring with a microfabricated silicon surface Paul trap. Delocalization of the Doppler laser-cooled ions shows that the translational symmetry of the ion ring is preserved at millikelvin temperatures. By characterizing the collective motion of the ion crystals, we identify homogeneous electric fields as the dominant symmetry-breaking mechanism at this energy scale. With increasing ion numbers, such detrimental effects are reduced. We predict that, with only a ten-ion ring, uncompensated homogeneous fields will not break the translational symmetry of the rotational ground state. This experiment opens a door towards studying quantum many-body physics with translational symmetry at the single-particle level.

Physical Review Letters 118, 053001 (2017) (Editors’ Suggestion)