Bloch oscillations in the absence of a lattice


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Abstract

The interplay of strong quantum correlations and far-from-equilibrium conditions can give rise to striking dynamical phenomena. We experimentally investigated the quantum motion of an impurity atom immersed in a strongly interacting one-dimensional Bose liquid and subject to an external force. We found that the momentum distribution of the impurity exhibits characteristic Bragg reflections at the edge of an emergent Brillouin zone. Although Bragg reflections are typically associated with lattice structures, in our strongly correlated quantum liquid they result from the interplay of short-range crystalline order and kinematic constraints on the many-body scattering processes in the one-dimensional system. As a consequence, the impurity exhibits periodic dynamics, reminiscent of Bloch oscillations, although the quantum liquid is translationally invariant. Our observations are supported by large-scale numerical simulations.

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