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Sound propagation and quantum-limited damping in an ultracold 2D Fermi gas
Strongly correlated two-dimensional (2D) systems are a fascinating field of study. The reduced dimensionality should in principle impede phenomena such as Bose-Einstein condensation or superfluidity. Yet, evidence suggests that superfluidity and superconductivity are especially robust in 2D: In almost all known high Tc-supercondcutors, strongly correlated 2D structures and higher-partial-wave coupling seem to play a crucial role. In this thesis, we use ultracold homogeneous gases of lithium 6 with tunable interactions to perform analog quantum simulation of these captivating systems.
As the main result of this thesis, I present the first measurements of the speed and attenuation of sound waves in ultracold 2D Fermi gases, which we use to probe the thermodynamic and transport properties of the gas. From the speed of sound, we extract the compressibility equation of state and compare it both to an independent static measurement and to quantum Monte Carlo calculations and find reasonable agreement between the three. The damping of the sound waves, which is determined by the shear and bulk viscosities as well as the thermal conductivity of the gas, exhibits a minimum in the strongly correlated regime. Here, the sound diffusivity approaches a universal quantum bound \hbar/m and the strongly correlated 2D Fermi gas thus realizes a nearly perfect fluid.