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Scherg, Sebastian; Kohlert, Thomas; Sala, Pablo; Pollmann, Frank; Madhusudhana, Bharath Hebbe; Bloch, Immanuel and Aidelsburger, Monika (2021): Observing non-ergodicity due to kinetic constraints in tilted Fermi-Hubbard chains. In: Nature Communications, Vol. 12, No. 1, 4490

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The thermalization of isolated quantum many-body systems is deeply related to fundamental questions of quantum information theory. While integrable or many-body localized systems display non-ergodic behavior due to extensively many conserved quantities, recent theoretical studies have identified a rich variety of more exotic phenomena in between these two extreme limits. The tilted one-dimensional Fermi-Hubbard model, which is readily accessible in experiments with ultracold atoms, emerged as an intriguing playground to study non-ergodic behavior in a clean disorder-free system. While non-ergodic behavior was established theoretically in certain limiting cases, there is no complete understanding of the complex thermalization properties of this model. In this work, we experimentally study the relaxation of an initial charge-density wave and find a remarkably long-lived initial-state memory over a wide range of parameters. Our observations are well reproduced by numerical simulations of a clean system. Using analytical calculations we further provide a detailed microscopic understanding of this behavior, which can be attributed to emergent kinetic constraints. It was predicted that complex thermalizing behaviour can arise in many-body systems in the absence of disorder. Here, the authors observe non-ergodic dynamics in a tilted optical lattice that is distinct from previously studied regimes, and propose a microscopic mechanism that is due to emergent kinetic constrains.

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