Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Ana Maria Rey

Second Advisor

Mike Hermele

Third Advisor

James Thompson

Fourth Advisor

Jun Ye

Fifth Advisor

Mark Ablowitz


Real materials are extremely complicated, and any attempt to understand their bulk properties must begin with the appropriate choice of an idealized model, or Hamiltonian. There are many situations where such models have furnished a decisive understanding of complex quantum phenomena, such as BCS superconductivity and quantum magnetism. There are also cases, for instance the unconventional superconductivity of doped cuprates or heavy-fermion metals, where even the simplest conceivable models are intractable to current theoretical techniques. A promising route toward understanding the physics of such models is to simulate them directly with a highly controlled quantum system. Ultracold neutral atoms, polar molecules, and ions are in many ways ideally suited to this task.

In this thesis, we emphasize how the unique features of particular atomic and molecular sys- tems can be leveraged to access interesting physics in experimentally feasible temperature regimes. In chapter 3, we consider prospects for simulation of the Kondo lattice model using alkaline- earth atoms. In particular, we show how groundstate properties--for instance anomalous mass enhancement--can be probed by looking at far-from equilibrium dynamics, which are a standard diagnostic tool in ultracold atom experiments. Chapter 4 describes a realistic implementation of a bosonic version of the Kondo lattice model, and we show how the Kondo interaction qualitatively changes the superfluid to Mott insulator phase transition. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 are unified through an attempt to understand the effects of dissipation in many-body quantum systems. In chapter 5, our goal is mainly to understand the detrimental effects of two-body reactive collisions on dipolar molecules in a 3D optical lattice. Chapter 6 takes a rather different perspective, and shows that this type of loss naturally induces quantum correlations in the steady state of reactive fermionic molecules or alkaline earth atoms. In chapter 7, we develop an exact analytic solution for the non-equilibrium dynamics of long-ranged Ising models with Markovian decoherence. We apply our solution to the benchmarking of dynamics in an existing trapped-ion quantum simulator, which due to its large size and long-ranged, frustrated, interactions is well beyond the reach of a brute force numerical description.