We consider a system of ultracold atoms in an optical lattice as a quantum simulator for electron–positron pair production in quantum electrodynamics (QED). For a setup in one spatial dimension, we investigate the nonequilibrium phenomenon of pair production including the backreaction leading to plasma oscillations. Unlike previous investigations on quantum link models, we focus on the infinite-dimensional Hilbert space of QED and show that it may be well approximated by experiments employing Bose–Einstein condensates interacting with fermionic atoms. Numerical calculations based on functional integral techniques give a unique access to the physical parameters required to realize QED phenomena in a cold atom experiment. In particular, we use our approach to consider quantum link models in a yet unexplored parameter regime and give bounds for their ability to capture essential features of the physics. The results suggest a paradigmatic change towards realizations using coherent many-body states for quantum simulations of high-energy particle physics phenomena.
V. Kasper, F. Hebenstreit, M. K. Oberthaler, J. Berges: Schwinger pair production with ultracold atoms, Phys. Lett. B 760 (2016) 742
Related to Project A01, B04