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Greschner, S.; Piraud, M.; Heidrich-Meisner, F.; McCulloch, I. P.; Schollwöck, Ulrich; Vekua, T. (2016): Symmetry-broken states in a system of interacting bosons on a two-leg ladder with a uniform Abelian gauge field. In: Physical Review A, Vol. 94, No. 6, 63628
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We study the quantum phases of bosons with repulsive contact interactions on a two-leg ladder in the presence of a uniform Abelian gauge field. The model realizes many interesting states, including Meissner phases, vortex fluids, vortex lattices, charge density waves, and the biased-ladder phase. Our work focuses on the subset of these states that breaks a discrete symmetry. We use density matrix renormalization group simulations to demonstrate the existence of three vortex-lattice states at different vortex densities and we characterize the phase transitions from these phases into neighboring states. Furthermore, we provide an intuitive explanation of the chiral-current reversal effect that is tied to some of these vortex lattices. We also study a charge-density-wave state that exists at 1/4 particle filling at large interaction strengths and flux values close to half a flux quantum. By changing the system parameters, this state can transition into a completely gapped vortex-lattice Mott-insulating state. We elucidate the stability of these phases against nearest-neighbor interactions on the rungs of the ladder relevant for experimental realizations with a synthetic lattice dimension. A charge-density- wave state at 1/3 particle filling can be stabilized for flux values close to half a flux quantum and for very strong on-site interactions in the presence of strong repulsion on the rungs. Finally, we analytically describe the emergence of these phases in the low-density regime, and, in particular, we obtain the boundaries of the biased-ladder phase, i.e., the phase that features a density imbalance between the legs. We make contact with recent quantum-gas experiments that realized related models and discuss signatures of these quantum states in experimentally accessible observables.