Tunable Landau-Zener transitions in a spin-orbit-coupled Bose-Einstein condensate
The Landau-Zener (LZ) transition is one of the most fundamental phenomena in quantum dynamics. It describes nonadiabatic transitions between quantum states near an avoided crossing that can occur in diverse physical systems. Here we report experimental measurements and tuning of LZ transitions between the dressed eigenlevels of a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) that is synthetically spin-orbit (SO) coupled. We measure the transition probability as the BEC is accelerated through the SO avoided crossing and study its dependence on the coupling between the diabatic (bare) states, eigenlevel slope, and eigenstate velocity--the three parameters of the LZ model that are independently controlled in our experiments. Furthermore, we performed time-resolved measurements to demonstrate the breaking down of the spin-momentum locking of the spin-orbit-coupled BEC in the nonadiabatic regime, and we determined the diabatic switching time of the LZ transitions. Our observations show quantitative agreement with the LZ model and numerical simulations of the quantum dynamics in the quasimomentum space. The tunable LZ transition may be exploited to enable a spin-dependent atomtronic transistor.