Negative-Mass Hydrodynamics in a Spin-Orbit-Coupled Bose-Einstein Condensate

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Abstract

A negative effective mass can be realized in quantum systems by engineering the dispersion relation. A powerful method is provided by spin-orbit coupling, which is currently at the center of intense research efforts. Here we measure an expanding spin-orbit coupled Bose-Einstein condensate whose dispersion features a region of negative effective mass. We observe a range of dynamical phenomena, including the breaking of parity and of Galilean covariance, dynamical instabilities, and self-trapping. The experimental findings are reproduced by a single-band Gross-Pitaevskii simulation, demonstrating that the emerging features - shock waves, soliton trains, self-trapping, etc. - originate from a modified dispersion. Our work also sheds new light on related phenomena in optical lattices, where the underlying periodic structure often complicates their interpretation.

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Khamehchi, M. A., Hossain, K., Mossman, M. E., Zhang, Y., Busch, T., Forbes, M. M. N., & Engels, P. (2017). Negative-Mass Hydrodynamics in a Spin-Orbit-Coupled Bose-Einstein Condensate. Physical Review Letters, 118(15). https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.118.155301

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