Cold atoms in optical lattices
This thesis describes the behaviour of cold atoms in optical lattices. In particular, it explores how transport through the energy bands of the optical lattice can be used to study quantum chaos and Bose-Einstein condensation. Firstly, this study examines the dynamics of ultra-cold sodium atoms in a one-dimensional optical lattice and a three-dimensional harmonic trap, using both semi-classical and quantum-mechanical analyses. The atoms show mixed stable-chaotic classical dynamics, which originate from the intrinsically quantum-mechanical nature of the energy band. The quantised energy levels exhibit Gutzwiller fluctuations, and the wavefunctions are scarred by an unstable periodic orbit. Distinct types of wavefunction are identified and related directly to particular parts of the classical phase space via a Wigner function analysis. Secondly, this report studies the dynamics of a rubidium Bose-Einstein condensate in a one-dimensional optical lattice and three-dimensional harmonic trap. The condensates are set in motion by displacing the trap and initially follow simple semi-classical paths, shaped by the lowest energy band. Above a critical displacement, the condensate undergoes Bragg reflection, and performs Bloch oscillations. After multiple Bragg reflections, solitons and vortices form which damp the centre-of-mass motion. Finally, the dynamics of Bose-Einstein condensates in optical lattices are investigated for different parameter regimes, as realised in recent experiments. The results reveal how the experiments can be understood, and identify regimes in which vortices trigger explosive expansion of the condensate.