The Role of Quantum Fluctuations in the Hexatic Phase of Cold Polar Molecules

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Wolfgang Lechner, Hans-Peter Büchler, Peter Zoller


Phys. Rev. Lett. 112, 255301

Two dimensional crystals melt via an intermediate \textit{hexatic} phase which is characterized by an anomalous scaling of spatial and orientational correlation functions and the absence of an attraction between dislocations. We propose a protocol to study the role of quantum fluctuations on the nature of this phase with a system of strongly correlated polar molecules in a parameter regime where thermal and quantum fluctuations are of the same order of magnitude. The dislocations can be located in experiment from local energy differences which induce internal stark shifts in dislocation molecules. We present a criterium to identify the hexatic phase from the statistics of the end points of topological defect strings and find a hexatic phase, which is dominated by quantum fluctuations, between crystal and superfluid phase.