Archive of news

Synthetic dimensions: recent progress and future perspectives

In new a review published in Communications Physics, researchers from ICFO and Dynamite team members, UPC, UAB, DIPC, HRI and Adam Mickiewicz University present the recent progress on utilizing synthetic dimensions of quantum matter for exploration of exotic quantum phenomena.

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QUIONE, a quantum simulator capable of observing individual atoms in a strontium quantum gas

Quantum physics needs high-precision sensing techniques to delve deeper into the microscopic properties of materials. From the analog quantum processors that have emerged recently, the so-called quantum-gas microscopes have proven to be powerful tools for understanding quantum systems at the atomic level. These devices produce images of quantum gases with very high resolution: they allow individual atoms to be detected.

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Researchers theoretically unveil high harmonic generation as a new source of squeezed quantum light

A team of researchers, some of them Dynamite team members, theoretically prove that the emitted light after a high harmonic generation (HHG) process is not classical, but quantum and squeezed. The study unveils the potential of HHG as a new source of bright entangled and squeezed light, two inherent quantum features with several cutting-edge applications within quantum technologies.

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Mapping the future of quantum simulators at Trieste

The International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste (Italy) hosted the workshop titled “The Quantum Simulators of the Future: From Dynamical Gauge Fields to Lattice Gauge Theories” from February 20th to 22nd, 2024. The meeting was co-organized by the Dynamite project. 62 people attended the workshop which aimed to explore and analyze the next generation of quantum simulators and their potential to increase our understanding of complex physical phenomena.

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New analog simulators can facilitate the study of ultrafast dynamics processes

A team of researchers, including DYNAMITE project team members, has theoretically proposed a new experimental platform based on analog simulation with atom clouds to study high-harmonic generation, an ultrafast dynamic process whose study challenges conventional computational methods. Their simulator can be adapted to approach a wide range of complex phenomena, opening the door to regimes that theory and direct experimentation are struggling to reach.

Despite all the successes in understanding electron dynamics at their natural attosecond (one quintillion of a second) time scale, one of the fundamental processes core to this field, high-harmonic generation (HHG), raises new challenges for cold-atom simulation. It consists in a highly non-linear phenomenon where a system absorbs many photons of an incoming laser and emits a single photon of much higher energy.

The unique characteristics of HHG make it an exceptional source of extreme ultraviolet radiation and consequently of attosecond pulses of light, which has important applications to various fields such as nonlinear optics or attosecond science.

The main obstacle hindering the study of this process, apart from the ultrafast speed at which it occurs, is the high number of variables involved. In any given material, many atoms and electrons are present, so to study most of the occurring chemical processes in all its complexity would require not only to describe all these components, but also their interactions with external fields and even among themselves. This turns out to be an extremely challenging task for any current classical computer. An alternative route is to use quantum devices, building the so-called analog simulators, whose nature allow them to better capture the complexity of the system.

Now, ICFO researchers Javier Argüello, Javier Rivera, Philipp Stammer led by the ICREA Prof. at ICFO Maciej Lewenstein, DYNAMITE coordinator, and in collaboration with other institutes all over the globe (Aarhus University, University of California and Guangdong Technion-Israel Institute of Technology) have proposed, in a Physical Review X Quantum publication, an analog simulator to access the emission spectrum of HHG using ultracold atomic clouds. Besides showing that an accurate replication of the key characteristics of the HHG processes in atoms was possible, they also provide details on how to implement it to specific atomic targets and discuss the main sources of errors.

The potential of analog simulation

An analog simulator allows scientists to study a complex quantum system (computationally challenging) through the control and manipulation of a much simpler one, which can be addressed experimentally. However, not every choice is valid, a connection between both systems must exist.

In this particular work, the complex phenomenon they chose in order to benchmark their idea was the high-harmonic generation. In there, the atomic bound electrons tunnel out the barrier formed by the atomic Coulomb potential and a laser electric field. Then, those free electrons are accelerated, causing the emission of radiation of characteristic harmonic frequencies upon recombination with their parent ions. This is the emission spectrum of the HHG that the researchers wanted to recover.

On the other hand, the connection to a much simpler quantum system was obtained by conveniently replacing certain components. Instead of an electron and a nuclear potential, they proposed to use an atomic gas that was trapped by a laser beam; and instead of the incoming light and its electric field, they suggested an external magnetic gradient that could be tuned at will. It turns out that the absorption images of this engineered system coincide with the desired emission yield.

Therefore, by taking absorption images of the analog simulator, the emission spectrum of the atomic high-harmonic generation can be indirectly studied.

A new platform for ultrafast simulation

In the end, the research group has paved the way to prove the potential of their alternative method to address complex systems that otherwise could only be theoretically approximated. They showed that state-of-the-art analog simulators are able to retrieve the HHG emission spectrum, a correspondence between the experimental and simulated parameters could be established and even an exhaustive experimental analysis was provided.

Moreover, the platform advantages are twofold. In the first place, the elements that emulate the incoming field and the nuclear potential can be easily tuned. And secondly, the simulation also provides a temporal magnification. This implies a high level of accessibility as the attosecond time-scale can be avoided, allowing the scientists to work in a much slower (and thus practical) frame.

The team highlights the adaptability power of their approach, which is not restricted to simulating HHG exclusively, but could be extended to other, more exotic configurations. In particular, the simulation of ultrafast processes, such as multielectronic dynamics or the reaction of matter to non-classical light, are the ones that could benefit the most.

Original Article

Argüello-Luengo, J., Rivera-Dean, J., Stammer, P., Maxwell, A. S., Weld, D. M., Ciappina, M. F., & Lewenstein, M. (2024). Analog Simulation of High-Harmonic Generation in Atoms. PRX Quantum, 5(1), 10328.

Dynamite project members contribute to Cold Atom Workshop 2024

Several members of the Dynamite Project contributed to the recent Cold Atom Workshop 2024, held to discuss quantum properties of cold matter and to explore advancements in the field of cold atom physics. Among the participants were Pierpaolo Fontana, Javier Argüello, Julia Bergmann, and Sarah Hirthe, who not only attended the event but also participated as invited speakers in the event.

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Novel topological properties of matter emerge from an ultra-cold atom-cavity system

An international team of researchers reports on a new method that permits inducing symmetry-protected higher-order topology through a spontaneous symmetry-breaking mechanism in a two-dimensional system of ultra-cold bosonic atoms inside a cavity.

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Topological Bogoliubov Quasiparticles from Bose-Einstein Condensate in a Flat Band System

A team of researchers led by ICREA Prof. at ICFO Maciej Lewenstein, who is also the Dynamite project coordinator, reports in Physical Review Letters on the stability of Bose Einstein Condensates, where Bogoliubov excitation modes have non-trivial topological properties.

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Maciej Lewenstein selected as Optica’s 2024 Fellow Class

The Board of Directors of  Optica (formerly OSA) recently elected 129 members from 26 countries to the Society’s 2024 Fellow Class. Optica Fellows are selected based on several factors, including outstanding contributions to research, business, education, engineering and service to Optica and its community. ICREA Professor at ICFO Dr. Maciej Lewenstein was among the members selected to belong to this year’s Fellows Class “for outstanding theoretical contributions to atto-optics, atto-science, quantum optics, and quantum information.”

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Dynamite team members at the BEC Conference 2023

The Bose-Einstein Condensation Conference 2023 took place in Sant Feliu de Guixols (Spain) from September 9th to September 15th. Several members of the Dynamite project team took part and contribute to the biennial conference on quantum gases and related fields.

The meeting provided participants with the possibility to share the latest developments on several topics including quantum simulation with single atom resolution. Leticia Tarruell, researcher at ICFO, and Gabrielle Ferrari, from University of Trento were members of the conference’s Scientific Committee. Furthermore, several members of the Dynamite project attended the event and contributed with talks and poster presentations in some of the scheduled sessions.
Here are some of the contributions:

Invited Talks

  • Cold atoms quantum simulation of the Sachdev-Ye-Kitaev model“, Philipp Hauke, University of Trento
  • Real-space detection and manipulation of topological edge modes with ultracold atoms“, Monika Aidelsburger, LMU Munich
  • Engineering exotic superfluids with spin-orbit coupled Bose-Einstein condensates“, Leticia Tarruell, ICFO


  • Dipolar Hubbard and spin systems revisited“, Maciej Lewenstein, ICFO
  • False vacuum decay via bubble formation in a ferromagnetic BEC“, Gabriele Ferrari, University of Trento
  • Irreversible entropy transport enhanced by proximity to fermionic superfluidity“, Tilman Esslinger, ETH Zurich
  • Topological and dynamical gauge theories with ultracold atoms”,Alessio Celi, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • Engineering long-range fermion-mediated interactions in cold-atom quantum simulators“, Javier Argüello-Luengo, ICFO
  • Engineering non-local interactions and geometrical frustration in synthetic quantum matter“, Luca Barbiero, Politecnico di Torino
  • Magnetically mediated hole pairing in fermionic ladders of ultracold atoms”, Sarah Hirthe, ICFO
  • Simulating high harmonic generation with ultracold atoms“, Javier Argüello-Luengo, ICFO

The conference booklet is available to download here