Precise experimental investigation of eigenmodes in a planar ion crystal

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H. Kaufmann, S. Ulm, G. Jacob, U. G. Poschinger, H. Landa, A. Retzker, M.B. Plenio, F. Schmidt-Kaler


DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.109.263003
PACS: 37.10.Ty, 03.67.Lx, 45.50.Jf

The accurate characterization of eigenmodes and eigenfrequencies of two-dimensional ion crystals provides the foundation for the use of such structures for quantum simulation purposes. We present a combined experimental and theoretical study of two-dimensional ion crystals. We demonstrate that standard pseudopotential theory accurately predicts the positions of the ions and the location of structural transitions between different crystal configurations. However, pseudopotential theory is insufficient to determine eigenfrequencies of the two-dimensional ion crystals accurately but shows significant deviations from the experimental data obtained from resolved sideband spectroscopy. Agreement at the level of 2.5×10-3 is found with the full time-dependent Coulomb theory using the Floquet-Lyapunov approach and the effect is understood from the dynamics of two-dimensional ion crystals in the Paul trap. The results represent initial steps towards an exploitation of these structures for quantum simulation schemes.