Science and Engineering

Purdue University

Chen-Lung Hung, Sergei Khlebnikov, Martin Kruczenski, Qi Zhou
West Lafayette, IN
December 2018


The existence of space, time, and gravity is a mainstay of conventional wisdom.  However, a profound idea initially proposed in string theory indicates that an analog of space and time can emerge from the dynamics of strongly coupled quantum systems.  Testing this description based on emergent space-time and gravity demands new experimental capabilities to engineer a highly accessible, strongly coupled quantum material.  A primary candidate to carry out such an experimental test is an atomic quantum gas trapped in an optical lattice, formed by intersecting laser beams, and prepared near a quantum phase transition that occurs at absolute zero temperature.  A team from Purdue University will develop a quantum gas platform that creates such quantum samples with unprecedented spatiotemporal control over the system parameters.  The team will make and test predictions of the dynamical properties of the samples and test them based on emergent space-time and gravity in extreme non-equilibrium situations such as in shock waves and in conditions that mimic those of black holes.  These experiments can provide a comprehensive test on many related dynamical phenomena.  It would offer a unique opportunity to demonstrate, for the first time in a laboratory, that a strongly coupled quantum system may be described by a theory of gravity.  This project has the potential to transform research in quantum matter and impact the way we view gravity and our universe.



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