Experimental investigation of tunneling times using Bose-Einstein condensates
The time it takes a quantum system to complete a tunneling event (which in the case of cross-barrier tunneling can be viewed as the time spent in a classically forbidden area) is related to the time required for a state to evolve to an orthogonal state, and an observation, i.e., a quantum mechanical projection on a particular basis, is required to distinguish one state from another. We have performed time-resolved measurements of Landau-Zener tunneling of Bose-Einstein condensates in accelerated optical lattices, clearly resolving the steplike time dependence of the band populations. The use of different protocols enabled us to access the tunneling probability, in two different bases, namely, the adiabatic basis and the diabatic basis. The adiabatic basis corresponds to the eigenstates of the lattice, and the diabatic one to the freeparticle momentum eigenstates. Our findings pave the way towards more quantitative studies of the tunneling time for LZ transitions, which are of current interest in the context of optimal quantum control and the quantum speed limit.
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