Direct Geometric Probe of Singularities in Band Structure


The band structure of a crystal may have points where two or more bands are degenerate in energy and where the geometry of the Bloch state manifold is singular, with consequences for material and transport properties. Ultracold atoms in optical lattices have been used to characterize such points only indirectly, e.g., by detection of an Abelian Berry phase, and only at singularities with linear dispersion (Dirac points). Here, we probe band-structure singularities through the non-Abelian transformation produced by transport directly through the singular points. We prepare atoms in one Bloch band, accelerate them along a quasi-momentum trajectory that enters, turns, and then exits the singularities at linear and quadratic touching points of a honeycomb lattice. Measurements of the band populations after transport identify the winding numbers of these singularities to be 1 and 2, respectively. Our work opens the study of quadratic band touching points in ultracold-atom quantum simulators, and also provides a novel method for probing other band geometry singularities

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