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Publication . Article . Preprint . 2017

The universe on a table top: engineering quantum decay of a relativistic scalar field from a metastable vacuum

Fialko, O; Opanchuk, B; Sidorov, A I; Drummond, P D; Brand, J;
Open Access  
Published: 28 Jan 2017
Publisher: IOP Publishing
The quantum decay of a relativistic scalar field from a metastable state ("false vacuum decay") is a fundamental idea in quantum field theory and cosmology. This occurs via local formation of bubbles of true vacuum with their subsequent rapid expansion. It can be considered as a relativistic analog of a first-order phase transition in condensed matter. Here we expand upon our recent proposal [EPL 110, 56001 (2015)] for an experimental test of false vacuum decay using an ultra-cold spinor Bose gas. A false vacuum for the relative phase of two spin components, serving as the unstable scalar field, is generated by means of a modulated linear coupling of the spin components. We analyze the system theoretically using the functional integral approach and show that various microscopic degrees of freedom in the system, albeit leading to dissipation in the relative phase sector, will not hamper the observation of the false vacuum decay in the laboratory. This is well supported by numerical simulations demonstrating the spontaneous formation of true vacuum bubbles on millisecond time-scales in two-component $^{7}$Li or $^{41}$K bosonic condensates in one-dimensional traps of $\sim100\,\mu \mathrm{m}$ size.
Subjects by Vocabulary

Microsoft Academic Graph classification: Phase transition Degrees of freedom (physics and chemistry) Quantum electrodynamics Quantum field theory Scalar field Physics Spin-½ Quantum False vacuum Bose gas


Condensed Matter Physics, Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics, Condensed Matter - Quantum Gases

Related Organizations
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Funded by
NSF| Programs on Critical Problems in Physics, Astrophysics and Biophysics at the Aspen Center for Physics
  • Funder: National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • Project Code: 1066293
  • Funding stream: Directorate for Mathematical & Physical Sciences | Division of Physics