##### Detecting hidden order in fractional Chern insulators

F. Pauw, F. A. Palm, U. Schollwöck, A. Bohrdt, S. Paeckel, F. Grusdt

Physical Review Research 6 (2), 23180 (2024).

Topological phase transitions go beyond Ginzburg and Landau's paradigm of spontaneous symmetry breaking and occur without an associated local order parameter. Instead, such transitions can be characterized by the emergence of nonlocal order parameters, which require measurements on extensively many particles simultaneously-an impossible venture in real materials. On the other hand, quantum simulators have demonstrated such measurements, making them prime candidates for experimental confirmation of nonlocal topological order. Here, building upon the recent advances in preparing few-particle fractional Chern insulators using ultracold atoms and photons, we propose a realistic scheme for detecting the hidden off-diagonal long-range order (HODLRO) characterizing Laughlin states. Furthermore, we demonstrate the existence of this hidden order in fractional Chern insulators, specifically for the nu = 1/2-Laughlin state in the isotropic Hofstadter-Bose-Hubbard model. This is achieved by large-scale numerical density matrix renormalization group (DMRG) simulations based on matrix product states, for which we formulate an efficient sampling procedure providing direct access to HODLRO in close analogy to the proposed experimental scheme. We confirm the characteristic power-law scaling of HODLRO, with an exponent 1/nu = 2, and show that its detection requires only a few thousand snapshots. This makes our scheme realistically achievable with current technology and paves the way for further analysis of nonlocal topological orders, e.g., in topological states with non-Abelian anyonic excitations.

##### Magnetic polarons beyond linear spin-wave theory: Mesons dressed by magnons

P. Bermes, A. Bohrdt, F. Grusdt

Physical Review B 109 (20), 205104 (2024).

"When a mobile hole is doped into an antiferromagnet, its movement will distort the surrounding magnetic order and yield a magnetic polaron. The resulting complex interplay of spin and charge degrees of freedom gives rise to very rich physics and is widely believed to be at the heart of high -temperature superconductivity in cuprates. In this paper, we develop a quantitative theoretical formalism, based on the phenomenological parton description, to describe magnetic polarons in the strong -coupling regime. We construct an effective Hamiltonian with weak coupling to the spin -wave excitations in the background, making the use of standard polaronic methods possible. Our starting point is a single hole doped into an antiferromagnet described by a ""geometric string"" capturing the strongly correlated hopping processes of charge and spin degrees of freedom, beyond linear spin -wave approximation. Subsequently, we introduce magnon excitations through a generalized 1 / S expansion and derive an effective coupling of these spin waves to the hole plus the string (the meson) to arrive at an effective polaron Hamiltonian with density -density type interactions. After making a Born-Oppenheimer-type approximation, this system is solved using the self -consistent Born approximation to extract the renormalized polaron properties. We apply our formalism (i) to calculate beyond linear spin -wave angle -resolved photoemission spectroscopy spectra, (ii) to reveal the interplay of rovibrational meson excitations, and (iii) to analyze the pseudogap expected at low doping. Moreover, our work paves the way for exploring magnetic polarons out of equilibrium or in frustrated systems, where weak -coupling approaches are desirable and going beyond linear spin -wave theory becomes necessary."

##### Scattering theory of mesons in doped antiferromagnetic Mott insulators: Multichannel perspective and Feshbach resonance

L. Homeier, P. Bermes, F. Grusdt

Physical Review B 109 (12), 125135 (2024).

Modeling the underlying pairing mechanism of charge carriers in strongly correlated electrons, starting from a microscopic theory, is among the central challenges of condensed -matter physics. Hereby, the key task is to understand what causes the appearance of superconductivity at comparatively high temperatures upon hole doping an antiferromagnetic (AFM) Mott insulator. Recently, it has been proposed that at strong coupling and low doping, the fundamental one- and two -hole meson -type constituents-magnetic polarons and bipolaronic pairs-likely realize an emergent Feshbach resonance producing near -resonant d x 2 - y 2 interactions between charge carriers. Here, we provide detailed calculations of the proposed scenario by describing the open and closed meson scattering channels in the t - t ' - J model using a truncated basis method. After integrating out the closed channel constituted by bipolaronic pairs, we find d x 2 - y 2 attractive interactions between open channel magnetic polarons. The closed form of the derived interactions allows us analyze the resonant pairing interactions and we find enhanced (suppressed) attraction for hole (electron) doping in our model. The formalism we introduce provides a framework to analyze the implications of a possible Feshbach scenario, e.g., in the context of BEC-BCS crossover, and establishes a foundation to test quantitative aspects of the proposed Feshbach pairing mechanisms in doped antiferromagnets.

##### Growing extended Laughlin states in a quantum gas microscope: A patchwork construction

F. A. Palm, J. Kwan, B. Bakkali-Hassani, M. Greiner, U. Schollwöck, N. Goldman, F. Grusdt

Physical Review Research 6 (1), 13198 (2024).

The study of fractional Chern insulators and their exotic anyonic excitations poses a major challenge in current experimental and theoretical research. Quantum simulators, in particular ultracold atoms in optical lattices, provide a promising platform to realize, manipulate, and understand such systems with a high degree of controllability. Recently, an atomic nu = 1/2 Laughlin state has been realized experimentally for a small system of two particles on 4 x 4 sites [Leonard et al., Nature (London) 619, 495 (2023)]. The next challenge concerns the preparation of Laughlin states in extended systems, ultimately giving access to anyonic braiding statistics or gapless chiral edge-states in systems with open boundaries. Here, we propose and analyze an experimentally feasible scheme to grow larger Laughlin states by connecting multiple copies of the already-existing 4 x 4 system. First, we present a minimal setting obtained by coupling two of such patches, producing an extended 8 x 4 system with four particles. Then, we analyze different preparation schemes, setting the focus on two shapes for the extended system, and discuss their respective advantages: While growing striplike lattices could give experimental access to the central charge, squarelike geometries are advantageous for creating quasihole excitations in view of braiding protocols. We highlight the robust quantization of the fractional quasihole charge upon using our preparation protocol. We benchmark the performance of our patchwork preparation scheme by comparing it to a protocol based on coupling one-dimensional chains. We find that the patchwork approach consistently gives higher target-state fidelities, especially for elongated systems. The results presented here pave the way towards near-term implementations of extended Laughlin states in quantum gas microscopes and the subsequent exploration of exotic properties of topologically ordered systems in experiments.

##### Feshbach resonance in a strongly repulsive ladder of mixed dimensionality: A possible scenario for bilayer nickelate superconductors

H. Lange, L. Homeier, E. Demler, U. Schollwöck, F. Grusdt, A. Bohrdt

Physical Review B 109 (4), 45127 (2024).

Since the discovery of superconductivity in cuprate materials, the minimal ingredients for high-Tc superconductivity have been an outstanding puzzle. Motivated by the recently discovered nickelate bilayer superconductor La3Ni2O7 under pressure, we study a minimal bilayer model, in which, as in La3Ni2O7, interlayer and intralayer magnetic interactions but no interlayer hopping are present: A mixed-dimensional (mixD) t-J model. In the setting of a mixD ladder, we show that the system exhibits a crossover associated with a Feshbach resonance: From a closed-channel-dominated regime of tightly bound bosonic pairs of holes to an open-channel-dominated regime of spatially more extended Cooper pairs. The crossover can be tuned by varying doping, or by a nearest-neighbor Coulomb repulsion V that we include in our model. Using density matrix renormalization group simulations and analytical descriptions of both regimes, we find that the ground state is a Luther-Emery liquid, competing with a density wave of tetraparton plaquettes at commensurate filling delta = 0.5 at large repulsion, and exhibits a pairing dome where binding is facilitated by doping. Our observations can be understood in terms of pairs of correlated spinon-chargon excitations constituting the open channel, which are subject to attractive interactions mediated by the closed channel of tightly bound chargon-chargon pairs. When the closed channel is lowered in energy by doping or tuning V, a Feshbach resonance is realized, associated with a dome in the binding energy. Our predictions can be directly tested in state-of-the art quantum simulators, and we argue that the pairing mechanism we describe may be realized in the nickelate bilayer superconductor La3Ni2O7.

##### Dichotomy of heavy and light pairs of holes in the *t*-*J* model

A. Bohrdt, E. Demler, F. Grusdt

Nature Communications 14 (1), 8017 (2023).

A key step in unraveling the mysteries of materials exhibiting unconventional superconductivity is to understand the underlying pairing mechanism. While it is widely agreed upon that the pairing glue in many of these systems originates from antiferromagnetic spin correlations, a microscopic description of pairs of charge carriers remains lacking. Here we use state-of-the art numerical methods to probe the internal structure and dynamical properties of pairs of charge carriers in quantum antiferromagnets in four-legged cylinders. Exploiting the full momentum resolution in our simulations, we are able to distinguish two qualitatively different types of bound states: a highly mobile, meta-stable pair, which has a dispersion proportional to the hole hopping t, and a heavy pair, which can only move due to spin exchange processes and turns into a flat band in the Ising limit of the model. Understanding the pairing mechanism can on the one hand pave the way to boosting binding energies in related models, and on the other hand enable insights into the intricate competition of various phases of matter in strongly correlated electron systems.

##### Adaptive Quantum State Tomography with Active Learning

H. Lange, M. Kebric, M. Buser, U. Schollwöck, F. Grusdt, A. Bohrdt

Quantum 7, 1129 (2023).

Recently, tremendous progress has been made in the field of quantum science and technologies: different platforms for quantum simulation as well as quantum computing, ranging from superconduct-ing qubits to neutral atoms, are start-ing to reach unprecedentedly large sys-tems. In order to benchmark these sys-tems and gain physical insights, the need for efficient tools to characterize quantum states arises. The exponential growth of the Hilbert space with system size ren-ders a full reconstruction of the quantum state prohibitively demanding in terms of the number of necessary measurements. Here we propose and implement an ef-ficient scheme for quantum state tomog-raphy using active learning. Based on a few initial measurements, the active learn-ing protocol proposes the next measure-ment basis, designed to yield the max-imum information gain. We apply the active learning quantum state tomogra-phy scheme to reconstruct different multi-qubit states with varying degree of entan-glement as well as to ground states of the XXZ model in 1D and a kinetically con-strained spin chain. In all cases, we obtain a significantly improved reconstruction as compared to a reconstruction based on the exact same number of measurements and measurement configurations, but with ran-domly chosen basis configurations. Our scheme is highly relevant to gain physical insights in quantum many-body systems as well as for benchmarking and character-izing quantum devices, e.g. for quantum simulation, and paves the way for scalable adaptive protocols to probe, prepare, and manipulate quantum systems.

##### Quantifying hole-motion-induced frustration in doped antiferromagnets by Hamiltonian reconstruction

H. Schlömer, T. A. Hilker, I. Bloch, U. Schollwöck, F. Grusdt, A. Bohrdt

Communications Materials 4 (1), 64 (2023).

Unveiling the microscopic origins of quantum phases dominated by the interplay of spin and motional degrees of freedom constitutes one of the central challenges in strongly correlated many-body physics. When holes move through an antiferromagnetic spin background, they displace the positions of spins, which induces effective frustration in the magnetic environment. However, a concrete characterization of this effect in a quantum many-body system is still an unsolved problem. Here we present a Hamiltonian reconstruction scheme that allows for a precise quantification of hole-motion-induced frustration. We access non-local correlation functions through projective measurements of the many-body state, from which effective spin-Hamiltonians can be recovered after detaching the magnetic background from dominant charge fluctuations. The scheme is applied to systems of mixed dimensionality, where holes are restricted to move in one dimension, but SU(2) superexchange is two-dimensional. We demonstrate that hole motion drives the spin background into a highly frustrated regime, which can quantitatively be described by an effective J(1)-J(2)-type spin model. We exemplify the applicability of the reconstruction scheme to ultracold atom experiments by recovering effective spin-Hamiltonians of experimentally obtained 1D Fermi-Hubbard snapshots. Our method can be generalized to fully 2D systems, enabling promising microscopic perspectives on the doped Hubbard model.

##### Realization of a fractional quantum Hall state with ultracold atoms

J. Léonard, S. Kim, J. Kwan, P. Segura, F. Grusdt, C. Repellin, N. Goldman, M. Greiner

Nature 619 (7970), 495-+ (2023).

Strongly interacting topological matter(1) exhibits fundamentally new phenomena with potential applications in quantum information technology(2,3). Emblematic instances are fractional quantum Hall (FQH) states(4), in which the interplay of a magnetic field and strong interactions gives rise to fractionally charged quasi-particles, long-ranged entanglement and anyonic exchange statistics. Progress in engineering synthetic magnetic fields(5-21) has raised the hope to create these exotic states in controlled quantum systems. However, except for a recent Laughlin state of light(22), preparing FQH states in engineered systems remains elusive. Here we realize a FQH state with ultracold atoms in an optical lattice. The state is a lattice version of a bosonic ? = 1/2 Laughlin state(4,23) with two particles on 16 sites. This minimal system already captures many hallmark features of Laughlin-type FQH states(24-28): we observe a suppression of two-body interactions, we find a distinctive vortex structure in the density correlations and we measure a fractional Hall conductivity of s(H)/s(0) = 0.6(2) by means of the bulk response to a magnetic perturbation. Furthermore, by tuning the magnetic field, we map out the transition point between the normal and the FQH regime through a spectroscopic investigation of the many-body gap. Our work provides a starting point for exploring highly entangled topological matter with ultracold atoms(29-33).

##### Realistic scheme for quantum simulation of Z_{2} lattice gauge theories with dynamical matter in (2+1)D

L. Homeier, A. Bohrdt, S. Linsel, E. Demler, J. C. Halimeh, F. Grusdt

Communications Physics 6 (1), 127 (2023).

Gauge fields coupled to dynamical matter are ubiquitous in many disciplines of physics, ranging from particle to condensed matter physics, but their implementation in large-scale quantum simulators remains challenging. Here we propose a realistic scheme for Rydberg atom array experiments in which a Z2 gauge structure with dynamical charges emerges on experimentally relevant timescales from only local two-body interactions and one-body terms in two spatial dimensions. The scheme enables the experimental study of a variety of models, including (2+ 1)D Z2 lattice gauge theories coupled to different types of dynamical matter and quantum dimer models on the honeycomb lattice, for which we derive effective Hamiltonians. We discuss ground-state phase diagrams of the experimentally most relevant effective Z2 lattice gauge theories with dynamical matter featuring various confined and deconfined, quantum spin liquid phases. Further, we present selected probes with immediate experimental relevance, including signatures of disorder-free localization and a thermal deconfinement transition of two charges.

##### Robust quantum many-body scars in lattice gauge theories

J. C. Halimeh, L. Barbiero, P. Hauke, F. Grusdt, A. Bohrdt

Quantum 7, 17 (2023).

Quantum many-body scarring is a paradigm of weak ergodicity breaking arising due to the presence of special nonthermal many-body eigenstates that possess low entanglement entropy, are equally spaced in energy, and concentrate in certain parts of the Hilbert space. Though scars have been shown to be intimately connected to gauge theories, their stability in such experimentally relevant models is still an open question, and it is generally considered that they exist only under fine-tuned conditions. In this work, we show through Krylov-based time-evolution methods how quantum many-body scars can be made robust in the presence of experimental errors through utilizing terms linear in the gaugesymmetry generator or a simplified pseudogenerator in U(1) and Z2 lattice gauge theories. Our findings are explained by the concept of quantum Zeno dynamics. Our experimentally feasible methods can be readily implemented in existing large-scale ultracold-atom quantum simulators and setups of Rydberg atoms with optical tweezers.

##### Pairing of holes by confining strings in antiferromagnets

F. Grusdt, E. Demler, A. Bohrdt

Scipost Physics 14 (5), 90 (2023).

In strongly correlated quantum materials, the behavior of charge carriers is dominated by strong electron-electron interactions. These can lead to insulating states with spin order, and upon doping to competing ordered states including unconventional super-conductivity. The underlying pairing mechanism remains poorly understood however, even in strongly simplified theoretical models. Recent advances in quantum simulation allow to study pairing in paradigmatic settings, e.g. in the t - J and t - Jz Hamiltoni-ans. Even there, the most basic properties of paired states of only two dopants, such as their dispersion relation and excitation spectra, remain poorly studied in many cases. Here we provide new analytical insights into a possible string-based pairing mechanism of mobile holes in an antiferromagnet. We analyze an effective model of partons con-nected by a confining string and calculate the spectral properties of bound states. Our model is equally relevant for understanding Hubbard-Mott excitons consisting of a bound doublon-hole pair or confined states of dynamical matter in lattice gauge theories, which motivates our study of different parton statistics. Although an accurate semi-analytic es-timation of binding energies is challenging, our theory provides a detailed understanding of the internal structure of pairs. For example, in a range of settings we predict heavy states of immobile pairs with flat-band dispersions - including for the lowest-energy d -wave pair of fermions. Our findings shed new light on the long-standing question about the origin of pairing and competing orders in high-temperature superconductors.

##### Robust stripes in the mixed-dimensional t-J model

H. Schlömer, A. Bohrdt, L. Pollet, U. Schollwöck, F. Grusdt

Physical Review Research 5 (2), L022027 (2023).

Microscopically understanding competing orders in strongly correlated systems is a key challenge in modern quantum many-body physics. For example, the origin of stripe order and its relation to pairing in the Fermi -Hubbard model remains one of the central questions, and may help to understand the origin of high-temperature superconductivity in cuprates. Here, we analyze stripe formation in the doped mixed-dimensional (mixD) variant of the t - J model, where charge carriers are restricted to move only in one direction, whereas magnetic SU(2) interactions are two-dimensional. Using the density matrix renormalization group at finite temperature, we find a stable vertical stripe phase in the absence of pairing, featuring incommensurate magnetic order and long-range charge density wave profiles over a wide range of dopings. We find high critical temperatures on the order of the magnetic coupling similar to J/2, hence being within reach of current quantum simulators. Snapshots of the many-body state, accessible to quantum simulators, reveal hidden spin correlations in the mixD setting, whereby antiferromagnetic correlations are enhanced when considering purely the magnetic background. The proposed model can be viewed as realizing a parent Hamiltonian of the stripe phase, whose hidden spin correlations lead to the predicted resilience against quantum and thermal fluctuations.

##### Phase diagram of mixed-dimensional anisotropic t-J models

J. Dicke, L. Rammelmüller, F. Grusdt, L. Pollet

Physical Review B 107 (7), 75109 (2023).

We study the phase diagram of two different mixed-dimensional t-Jz-J1 models on the square lattice, in which the hopping amplitude t is only nonzero along the x direction. In the first model, which is bosonic, the spin-exchange amplitude J1 is negative and isotropic along the x and y directions of the lattice, and Jz is isotropic and positive. The low-energy physics is characterized by spin-charge separation: the holes hop as free fermions in an easy-plane ferromagnetic background. In the second model, J1 is restricted to the x axis while Jz remains isotropic and positive. The model is agnostic to particle statistics, and shows stripe patterns with antiferromagnetic Neel order at low temperature and high hole densities, in resemblance of the mixed-dimensional t-Jz and t -J models. At lower hole density, a very strong first-order transition and hysteresis loop is seen extending to a remarkably high 14(1)% hole doping.

##### Ferromagnetism and skyrmions in the Hofstadter-Fermi-Hubbard model

F. A. Palm, M. Kurttutan, A. Bohrdt, U. Schollwöck, F. Grusdt

New Journal of Physics 25 (2), 23021 (2023).

Strongly interacting fermionic systems host a variety of interesting quantum many-body states with exotic excitations. For instance, the interplay of strong interactions and the Pauli exclusion principle can lead to Stoner ferromagnetism, but the fate of this state remains unclear when kinetic terms are added. While in many lattice models the fermions' dispersion results in delocalization and destabilization of the ferromagnet, flat bands can restore strong interaction effects and ferromagnetic correlations. To reveal this interplay, here we propose to study the Hofstadter-Fermi-Hubbard model using ultracold atoms. We demonstrate, by performing large-scale density-matrix renormalization group simulations, that this model exhibits a lattice analog of the quantum Hall (QH) ferromagnet at magnetic filling factor nu = 1. We reveal the nature of the low energy spin-singlet states around nu asymptotic to 1 and find that they host quasi-particles and quasi-holes exhibiting spin-spin correlations reminiscent of skyrmions. Finally, we predict the breakdown of flat-band ferromagnetism at large fields. Our work paves the way towards experimental studies of lattice QH ferromagnetism, including prospects to study many-body states of interacting skyrmions and explore the relation to high- T-c superconductivity.

##### Particle zoo in a doped spin chain: Correlated states of mesons and magnons

P. Cubela, A. Bohrdt, M. Greiner, F. Grusdt

Physical Review B 107 (3), 35105 (2023).

It is a widely accepted view that the interplay of spin and charge degrees of freedom in doped antiferromagnets (AFMs) gives rise to the rich physics of high-temperature superconductors. Nevertheless, it remains unclear how effective low-energy degrees of freedom and the corresponding field theories emerge from microscopic models, including t - J and Hubbard Hamiltonians. A promising view comprises that the charge carriers have a rich internal parton structure on intermediate scales, but the interplay of the emergent partons with collective magnon excitations of the surrounding AFM remains unexplored. Here we study a doped one-dimensional spin chain in a staggered magnetic field and demonstrate that it supports a zoo of various long-lived excitations. These include magnons, mesonic pairs of spinons and chargons along with their rovibrational excitations, and tetraparton bound states of mesons and magnons. We identify these types of quasiparticles in various spectra using density-matrix renormalization group simulations. Moreover, we introduce a strong-coupling theory describing the polaronic dressing and molecular binding of mesons to collective magnon excitations. The effective theory can be solved by standard tools developed for polaronic problems and can be extended to study similar physics in two-dimensional doped AFMs in the future. Experimentally, the doped spin-chain in a staggered field can be directly realized in quantum gas microscopes.

##### Confinement induced frustration in a one-dimensional Z2 lattice gauge theory

M. Kebric, U. Borla, U. Schollwöck, S. Moroz, L. Barbiero, F. Grusdt

New Journal of Physics 25 (1), 13035 (2023).

Coupling dynamical charges to gauge fields can result in highly non-local interactions with a linear confining potential. As a consequence, individual particles bind into mesons which, in one dimension, become the new constituents of emergent Luttinger liquids (LLs). Furthermore, at commensurate fillings, different Mott-insulating states can be stabilized by including nearest-neighbour (NN) interactions among charges. However, rich phase diagrams expected in such models have not been fully explored and still lack comprehensive theoretical explanation. Here, by combining numerical and analytical tools, we study a simple one-dimensional Z2 lattice gauge theory at half-filling, where U(1) matter is coupled to gauge fields and interacts through NN repulsion. We uncover a rich phase diagram where the local NN interaction stabilizes a Mott state of individual charges (or partons) on the one hand, and an LL of confined mesons on the other. Furthermore, at the interface between these two phases, we uncover a highly frustrated regime arising due to the competition between the local NN repulsion and the non-local confining interactions, realizing a pre-formed parton plasma. Our work is motivated by the recent progress in ultracold atom experiments, where such simple model could be readily implemented. For this reason we calculate the static structure factor which we propose as a simple probe to explore the phase diagram in an experimental setup.

##### Magnetically mediated hole pairing in fermionic ladders of ultracold atoms

S. Hirthe, T. Chalopin, D. Bourgund, P. Bojovic, A. Bohrdt, E. Demler, F. Grusdt, I. Bloch, T. A. Hilker

Nature 613 (7944), 463-+ (2023).

Conventional superconductivity emerges from pairing of charge carriers-electrons or holes-mediated by phonons(1). In many unconventional superconductors, the pairing mechanism is conjectured to be mediated by magnetic correlations(2), as captured by models of mobile charges in doped antiferromagnets(3). However, a precise understanding of the underlying mechanism in real materials is still lacking and has been driving experimental and theoretical research for the past 40 years. Early theoretical studies predicted magnetic-mediated pairing of dopants in ladder systems(4-8), in which idealized theoretical toy models explained how pairing can emerge despite repulsive interactions(9). Here we experimentally observe this long-standing theoretical prediction, reporting hole pairing due to magnetic correlations in a quantum gas of ultracold atoms. By engineering doped antiferromagnetic ladders with mixed-dimensional couplings(10), we suppress Pauli blocking of holes at short length scales. This results in a marked increase in binding energy and decrease in pair size, enabling us to observe pairs of holes predominantly occupying the same rung of the ladder. We find a hole-hole binding energy of the order of the superexchange energy and, upon increased doping, we observe spatial structures in the pair distribution, indicating repulsion between bound hole pairs. By engineering a configuration in which binding is strongly enhanced, we delineate a strategy to increase the critical temperature for superconductivity.

##### Disorder-free localization with Stark gauge protection

H. F. Lang, P. Hauke, J. Knolle, F. Grusdt, J. C. Halimeh

Physical Review B 106 (17), 174305 (2022).

Disorder-free localization in translation-invariant gauge theories presents a counterintuitive yet powerful framework of ergodicity breaking in quantum many-body physics. The fragility of this phenomenon in the presence of gauge-breaking errors has recently been addressed, but no scheme has been able to reliably stabilize disorder-free localization through all accessible evolution times while preserving the disorder-free property. Here, we introduce the concept of Stark gauge protection, which entails a linear sum in gauge-symmetry local (pseudo)generators weighted by a Stark potential. Using exact diagonalization and Krylov-based methods, we show how this scheme can stabilize or even enhance disorder-free localization against gauge-breaking errors in U(1) and Z2 gauge theories up to all accessible evolution times, without inducing bona fide Stark many-body localization. We show through a Magnus expansion that the dynamics under Stark gauge protection is described by an effective Hamiltonian where gauge-breaking terms are suppressed locally by the protection strength and additionally by the matter site index, which we argue is the main reason behind stabilizing the localization up to all accessible times. Our scheme is readily feasible in modern ultracold-atom experiments and Rydberg-atom setups with optical tweezers.

##### Quantized topological pumping of solitons in nonlinear photonics and ultracold atomic mixtures

N. Mostaan, F. Grusdt, N. Goldman

Nature Communications 13 (1), 5997 (2022).

Synthetic lattice systems are powerful platforms for studying the influence of intrinsic nonlinearities on topological phenomena. Here the authors elucidate the topological transport of solitons in terms of Wannier functions displacement and they introduce a nonlinearity-induced topological transport effect that could be observed in ultracold quantum mixtures. Exploring the interplay between topological band structures and tunable nonlinearities has become possible with the development of synthetic lattice systems. In this emerging field of nonlinear topological physics, an experiment revealed the quantized motion of solitons in Thouless pumps and suggested that this phenomenon was dictated by the Chern number of the band from which solitons emanate. Here, we elucidate the origin of this nonlinear topological effect, by showing that the motion of solitons is established by the quantized displacement of the underlying Wannier functions. Our general theoretical approach, which fully clarifies the central role of the Chern number in solitonic pumps, provides a framework for describing the topological transport of nonlinear excitations in a broad class of physical systems. Exploiting this interdisciplinarity, we introduce an interaction-induced topological pump for ultracold atomic mixtures, where solitons of impurity atoms experience a quantized drift resulting from genuine interaction processes with their environment.

##### Inducing spin-order with an impurity: phase diagram of the magnetic Bose polaron

S. I. Mistakidis, G. M. Koutentakis, F. Grusdt, P. Schmelcher, H. R. Sadeghpour

New Journal of Physics 24 (8), 83030 (2022).

We investigate the formation of magnetic Bose polaron, an impurity atom dressed by spin-wave excitations, in a one-dimensional spinor Bose gas. Within an effective potential model, the impurity is strongly confined by the host excitations which can even overcome the impurity-medium repulsion leading to a self-localized quasi-particle state. The phase diagram of the attractive and self-bound repulsive magnetic polaron, repulsive non-magnetic (Frohlich-type) polaron and impurity-medium phase-separation regimes is explored with respect to the Rabi-coupling between the spin components, spin-spin interactions and impurity-medium coupling. The residue of such magnetic polarons decreases substantially in both strong attractive and repulsive branches with strong impurity-spin interactions, illustrating significant dressing of the impurity. The impurity can be used to probe and maneuver the spin polarization of the magnetic medium while suppressing ferromagnetic spin-spin correlations. It is shown that mean-field theory fails as the spinor gas approaches immiscibility since the generated spin-wave excitations are prominent. Our findings illustrate that impurities can be utilized to generate controllable spin-spin correlations and magnetic polaron states which can be realized with current cold atom setups.

##### Stabilizing lattice gauge theories through simplified local pseudogenerators

J. C. Halimeh, L. Homeier, C. Schweizer, M. Aidelsburger, P. Hauke, F. Grusdt

Physical Review Research 4 (3), 33120 (2022).

The postulate of gauge invariance in nature does not lend itself directly to implementations of lattice gauge theories in modern setups of quantum synthetic matter. Unavoidable gauge-breaking errors in such devices require gauge invariance to be enforced for faithful quantum simulation of gauge-theory physics. This poses major experimental challenges, in large part due to the complexity of the gauge-symmetry generators. Here, we show that gauge invariance can be reliably stabilized by employing simplified local pseudogenerators designed such that within the physical sector they act identically to the actual local generator. Dynamically, they give rise to emergent exact gauge theories up to time scales polynomial and even exponential in the protection strength. This obviates the need for implementing often complex multibody full gauge symmetries, thereby further reducing experimental overhead in physical realizations. We showcase our method in the Z(2) lattice gauge theory, and discuss experimental considerations for its realization in modern ultracold-atom setups.

##### Snapshot-based detection of ?=1/2 Laughlin states: Coupled chains and central charge

F. A. Palm, S. Mardazad, A. Bohrdt, U. Schollwöck, F. Grusdt

Physical Review B 106 (8), L081108 (2022).

Experimental realizations of topologically ordered states of matter, such as fractional quantum Hall states, with cold atoms are now within reach. In particular, optical lattices provide a promising platform for the realization and characterization of such states, where novel detection schemes enable an unprecedented microscopic under-standing. Here we show that the central charge can be directly measured in current cold atom experiments using the number entropy as a proxy for the entanglement entropy. We perform density-matrix renormalization-group simulations of Hubbard-interacting bosons on coupled chains subject to a magnetic field with alpha = 1/4 flux quanta per plaquette. Tuning the interchain hopping, we find a transition from a trivial quasi-one-dimensional phase to the topologically ordered Laughlin state at magnetic filling factor nu = 1/2 for systems of three or more chains. We resolve the transition using the central charge, on-site correlations, momentum distributions, and the many-body Chern number. Additionally, we propose a scheme to experimentally estimate the central charge from Fock basis snapshots. The model studied here is experimentally realizable with existing cold atom techniques and the proposed observables pave the way for the detection and classification of a larger class of interacting topological states of matter.

##### Schrieffer-Wolff transformations for experiments: Dynamically suppressing virtual doublon-hole excitations in a Fermi-Hubbard simulator

A. Kale, J. H. Huhn, M. Q. Xu, L. H. Kendrick, M. Lebrat, C. Chiu, G. Ji, F. Grusdt, A. Bohrdt, M. Greiner

Physical Review A 106 (1), 12428 (2022).

In strongly interacting systems with a separation of energy scales, low-energy effective Hamiltonians help provide insights into the relevant physics at low temperatures. The emergent interactions in the effective model are mediated by virtual excitations of high-energy states: For example, virtual doublon-hole excitations in the Fermi-Hubbard model mediate antiferromagnetic spin-exchange interactions in the derived effective model, known as the t - J - 3s model. Formally this procedure is described by performing a unitary Schrieffer-Wolff basis transformation. In the context of quantum simulation, it can be advantageous to consider the effective model to interpret experimental results. However, virtual excitations such as doublon-hole pairs can obfuscate the measurement of physical observables. Here we show that quantum simulators allow one to access the effective model even more directly by performing measurements in a rotated basis. We propose a protocol to perform a Schrieffer-Wolff transformation on Fermi-Hubbard low-energy eigenstates (or thermal states) to dynamically prepare approximate t - J - 3s model states using fermionic atoms in an optical lattice. Our protocol involves performing a linear ramp of the optical lattice depth, which is slow enough to eliminate the virtual doublon-hole fluctuations but fast enough to freeze out the dynamics in the effective model. We perform a numerical study using exact diagonalization and find an optimal ramp speed for which the state after the lattice ramp has maximal overlap with the t - J - 3s model state. We compare our numerics to experimental data from our Lithium-6 fermionic quantum gas microscope and show a proof-of-principle demonstration of this protocol. More generally, this protocol can be beneficial to studies of effective models by enabling the suppression of virtual excitations in a wide range of quantum simulation experiments.

##### Dynamical signatures of thermal spin-charge deconfinement in the doped Ising model

L. Hahn, A. Bohrdt, F. Grusdt

Physical Review B 105 (24), L241113 (2022).

The mechanism underlying charge transport in strongly correlated quantum systems, such as doped antiferromagnetic Mott insulators, remains poorly understood. Here, we study the expansion dynamics of an initially localized hole inside a two-dimensional (2D) Ising antiferromagnet at variable temperature. Using a combination of classical Monte Carlo and truncated-basis methods, we reveal two dynamically distinct regimes: a spin-charge confined region below a critical temperature T*, characterized by slow spreading, and a spin-charge deconfined region above T*, characterized by an unbounded diffusive expansion. The deconfinement temperature T* ti 0.65Jz we find is around the N??el temperature TN = 0.567Jz of the Ising background in 2D, but we expect T* < TN in higher dimensions. In both regimes we find that the mobile hole does not thermalize with the Ising spin background on the considered time scales, indicating weak effective coupling of spin and charge degrees of freedom. Our results can be qualitatively understood by an effective parton model and can be tested experimentally in state-of-the-art quantum gas microscopes.

##### Characterizing topological excitations of a long-range Heisenberg model with trapped ions

S. Birnkammer, A. Bohrdt, F. Grusdt, M. Knap

Physical Review B 105 (24), L241103 (2022).

Realizing and characterizing interacting topological phases in synthetic quantum systems is a formidable challenge. Here, we propose a Floquet protocol to realize the antiferromagnetic Heisenberg model with power -law decaying interactions. Based on analytical and numerical arguments, we show that this model features a quantum phase transition from a liquid to a valence bond solid that spontaneously breaks lattice translational symmetry and is reminiscent of the Majumdar-Ghosh state. The different phases can be probed dynamically by measuring the evolution of a fully dimerized state. We moreover introduce an interferometric protocol to characterize the topological excitations and the bulk topological invariants of the interacting many-body system.

##### Strong pairing in mixed-dimensional bilayer antiferromagnetic Mott insulators

A. Bohrdt, L. Homeier, I. Bloch, E. Demler, F. Grusdt

Nature Physics 18 (6), 651-+ (2022).

Studies of unconventional pairing mechanisms in cold atoms require ultralow temperatures. Large-scale numerics show that certain bilayer models allow for deeply bound and highly mobile pairs of charges at more accessible temperatures. Interacting many-body systems in reduced-dimensional settings, such as ladders and few-layer systems, are characterized by enhanced quantum fluctuations. Recently, two-dimensional bilayer systems have sparked considerable interest because they can host unusual phases, including unconventional superconductivity. Here we present a theoretical proposal for realizing high-temperature pairing of fermions in a class of bilayer Hubbard models. We introduce a general and highly efficient pairing mechanism for mobile charge carriers in doped antiferromagnetic Mott insulators. The pairing is caused by the energy that one charge gains when it follows the path created by another charge. We show that this mechanism leads to the formation of highly mobile but tightly bound pairs in the case of mixed-dimensional Fermi-Hubbard bilayer systems. This setting is closely related to the Fermi-Hubbard model believed to capture the physics of copper oxides, and can be realized in currently available ultracold atom experiments.

##### Thouless Pumps and Bulk-Boundary Correspondence in Higher-Order Symmetry-Protected Topological Phases

J. F. Wienand, F. Horn, M. Aidelsburger, J. Bibo, F. Grusdt

Physical Review Letters 128 (24), 246602 (2022).

The bulk-boundary correspondence relates quantized edge states to bulk topological invariants in topological phases of matter. In one-dimensional symmetry-protected topological systems, quantized topological Thouless pumps directly reveal this principle and provide a sound mathematical foundation. Symmetry-protected higher-order topological phases of matter (HOSPTs) also feature a bulk-boundary correspondence, but its connection to quantized charge transport remains elusive. Here, we show that quantized Thouless pumps connecting C-4-symmetric HOSPTs can be described by a tuple of four Chern numbers that measure quantized bulk charge transport in a direction-dependent fashion. Moreover, this tuple of Chern numbers allows to predict the sign and value of fractional corner charges in the HOSPTs. We show that the topologically nontrivial phase can be characterized by both quadrupole and dipole configurations, shedding new light on current debates about the multipole nature of the HOSPT bulk. By employing corner-periodic boundary conditions, we generalize Restas's theory to HOSPTs. Our approach provides a simple framework for understanding topological invariants of general HOSPTs and paves the way for an in-depth description of future dynamical experiments.

##### Enhancing Disorder-Free Localization through Dynamically Emergent Local Symmetries

J. C. Halimeh, L. Homeier, H. Z. Zhao, A. Bohrdt, F. Grusdt, P. Hauke, J. Knolle

Prx Quantum 3 (2), 19 (2022).

Disorder-free localization is a recently discovered phenomenon of nonergodicity that can emerge in quantum many-body systems hosting gauge symmetries when the initial state is prepared in a superposition of gauge superselection sectors. Thermalization is then prevented up to all accessible evolution times despite the model being nonintegrable and translation invariant. In a recent work [Halimeh et al., arXiv:2111.02427 (2021)], it has been shown that terms linear in the gauge-symmetry generator stabilize disorder-free localization in U(1) gauge theories against gauge errors that couple different superselection sectors. Here, we show in the case of Z2 gauge theories that disorder-free localization can not only be stabilized, but also enhanced by the addition of translation-invariant terms linear in a local Z2 pseudogenerator that acts identically to the full generator in a single superselection sector, but not necessarily outside of it. We show analytically and numerically how this leads through the quantum Zeno effect to the dynamical emergence of a renormalized gauge theory with an enhanced local symmetry, which contains the Z2 gauge symmetry of the ideal model, associated with the Z2 pseudogenerator. The resulting proliferation of superselection sectors due to this dynamically emergent gauge theory creates an effective disorder greater than that in the original model, thereby enhancing disorder-free localization. We demonstrate the experimental feasibility of the Z2 pseudogenerator by providing a detailed readily implementable experimental proposal for the observation of disorder-free localization in a Rydberg setup.

##### Snapshot-based characterization of particle currents and the Hall response in synthetic flux lattices

M. Buser, U. Schollwöck, F. Grusdt

Physical Review A 105 (3), 33303 (2022).

Quantum simulators are attracting great interest because they promise insight into the behavior of quantum many-body systems that are prohibitive for classical simulations. The generic output of quantum simulators are snapshots, obtained by means of projective measurements. These provide new information, such as full distribution functions, that goes beyond the more commonly evaluated expectation values of observables while adding shot-noise uncertainty to the latter. Hence, a central goal of theoretical efforts must be to predict these exact same quantities that can be measured in experiments. Here, we report on a snapshot-based study of particle currents in quantum lattice models with a conserved number of particles. It is shown how the full probability distribution of locally resolved particle currents can be obtained from suitable snapshot data. Moreover, we investigate the Hall response of interacting bosonic flux ladders, exploiting snapshots drawn from matrix-product states. Flux ladders are minimal lattice models, which enable microscopic studies of the Hall response in correlated quantum phases, and they are successfully realized in current quantum-gas experiments. Using a specific pattern of unitary two-site transformations, it is shown that the Hall polarization and the Hall voltage can be faithfully computed from a realistic number of snapshots obtained in experimentally feasible quench and finite-bias simulations.

##### Visualizing spinon Fermi surfaces with time-dependent spectroscopy

A. Schuckert, A. Bohrdt, E. Crane, F. Grusdt

Physical Review B 104 (23), 235107 (2021).

Quantum simulation experiments have started to explore regimes that are not accessible with exact numerical methods. To probe these systems and enable new physical insights, the need for measurement protocols arises that can bridge the gap to solid-state experiments, and at the same time make optimal use of the capabilities of quantum simulation experiments. Here we propose applying time-dependent photoemission spectroscopy, an established tool in solid-state systems, in cold atom quantum simulators. Concretely, we suggest combining the method with large magnetic field gradients, unattainable in experiments on real materials, to drive Bloch oscillations of spinons, the emergent quasiparticles of spin liquids. We show in exact diagonalization simulations of the one-dimensional t-J model with a single hole that the spinons start to populate previously unoccupied states in an effective band structure, thus allowing us to visualize states invisible in the equilibrium spectrum. The dependence of the spectral function on the time after the pump pulse reveals collective interactions among spinons. In numerical simulations of small two-dimensional systems, spectral weight appears at the ground-state energy at momentum q = (pi, pi), where the equilibrium spectral response is strongly suppressed up to higher energies, indicating a possible route toward solving the mystery of the Fermi arcs in the cuprate materials.

##### Exploration of doped quantum magnets with ultracold atoms

A. Bohrdt, L. Homeier, C. Reinmoser, E. Demler, F. Grusdt

Annals of Physics 435, 168651 (2021).

In the last decade, quantum simulators, and in particular cold atoms in optical lattices, have emerged as a valuable tool to study strongly correlated quantum matter. These experiments are now reaching regimes that are numerically difficult or impossible to access. In particular they have started to fulfill a promise which has contributed significantly to defining and shaping the field of cold atom quantum simulations, namely the exploration of doped and frustrated quantum magnets and the search for the origins of high-temperature superconductivity in the fermionic Hubbard model. Despite many future challenges lying ahead, such as the need to further lower the experimentally accessible temperatures, remarkable studies have already been conducted. Among them, spin-charge separation in one-dimensional systems has been demonstrated, extended-range antiferromagnetism in two-dimensional systems has been observed, connections to modern day large-scale numerical simulations were made, and unprecedented comparisons with microscopic trial wavefunctions have been carried out at finite doping. In many regards, the field has acquired new realms, putting old ideas to a new test and producing new insights and inspiration for the next generation of physicists. In the first part of this paper, we review the results achieved in cold atom realizations of the Fermi-Hubbard model in recent years. We put special emphasis on the new probes available in quantum gas microscopes, such as higher-order correlation functions, full counting statistics, the ability to study far-from -equilibrium dynamics, machine learning and pattern recognition of instantaneous snapshots of the many-body wavefunction, and access to non-local correlators. Our review is written from a theoretical perspective, but aims to provide basic understanding of the experimental procedures. We cover one- dimensional systems, where the phenomenon of spin-charge separation is ubiquitous, and two-dimensional systems where we distinguish between situations with and without doping. Throughout, we focus on the strong coupling regime where the Hubbard inter-actions U dominate and connections to t - J models can be justified. In the second part of this paper, with the stage set and the current state of the field in mind, we propose a new direction for cold atoms to explore: namely mixed-dimensional bilayer systems, where the charge motion is restricted to individual layers which remain coupled through spin-exchange. These systems can be directly realized experimentally and we argue that they have a rich phase diagram, potentially including a strongly correlated BEC-to-BCS cross-over and regimes with different superconducting order parameters, as well as complex parton phases and possibly even analogs of tetraquark states. In particular, we propose a novel, strong pairing mechanism in these systems, which puts the formation of hole pairs at experimentally accessible, elevated temperatures within reach. Ultimately we propose to explore how the physics of the mixed-dimensional bilayer system can be connected to the rich phenomenology of the single-layer Hubbard model. (C) 2021 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

##### Rotational Resonances and Regge-like Trajectories in Lightly Doped Antiferromagnets

A. Bohrdt, E. Demler, F. Grusdt

Physical Review Letters 127 (19), 197004 (2021).

Understanding the nature of charge carriers in doped Mott insulators holds the key to unravelling puzzling properties of strongly correlated electron systems, including cuprate superconductors. Several theoretical models suggested that dopants can be understood as bound states of partons, the analogues of quarks in high-energy physics. However, direct signatures of spinon-chargon bound states are lacking, both in experiment and theory. Here we propose a rotational variant of angle-resolved photo-emission spectroscopy (ARPES) and calculate rotational spectra numerically using the density-matrix renormalization group. We identify long-lived rotational resonances for an individual dopant, which we interpret as a direct indicator of the microscopic structure of spinon-chargon bound states. Similar to Regge trajectories reflecting the quark structure of mesons, we establish a linear dependence of the rotational energy on the superexchange coupling. The rotational peaks we find are strongly suppressed in standard ARPES spectra, but we suggest a multiphoton extension of ARPES which allows us to access rotational spectra. Our findings suggest that multiphoton spectroscopy experiments should provide new insights into emergent universal features of strongly correlated electron systems.

##### Dynamical Quantum Cherenkov Transition of Fast Impurities in Quantum Liquids

K. Seetharam, Y. Shchadilova, F. Grusdt, M. B. Zvonarev, E. Demler

Physical Review Letters 127 (18), 185302 (2021).

The challenge of understanding the dynamics of a mobile impurity in an interacting quantum many-body medium comes from the necessity of including entanglement between the impurity and excited states of the environment in a wide range of energy scales. In this Letter, we investigate the motion of a finite mass impurity injected into a three-dimensional quantum Bose fluid as it starts shedding Bogoliubov excitations. We uncover a transition in the dynamics as the impurity's velocity crosses a critical value that depends on the strength of the interaction between the impurity and bosons as well as the impurity's recoil energy. We find that in injection experiments, the two regimes differ not only in the character of the impurity velocity abatement but also exhibit qualitative differences in the Loschmidt echo, density ripples excited in the Bose-Einstein condensate, and momentum distribution of scattered bosonic particles. The transition is a manifestation of a dynamical quantum Cherenkov effect and should be experimentally observable with ultracold atoms using Ramsey interferometry, rf spectroscopy, absorption imaging, and time-of-flight imaging.

##### Microscopic evolution of doped Mott insulators from polaronic metal to Fermi liquid

J. Koepsell, D. Bourgund, P. Sompet, S. Hirthe, A. Bohrdt, Y. Wang, F. Grusdt, E. Demler, G. Salomon, C. Gross, I. Bloch

Science 374 (6563), 82-+ (2021).

The competition between antiferromagnetism and hole motion in two-dimensional Mott insulators lies at the heart of a doping-dependent transition from an anomalous metal to a conventional Fermi liquid. We observe such a crossover in Fermi-Hubbard systems on a cold-atom quantum simulator and reveal the transformation of multipoint correlations between spins and holes upon increasing doping at temperatures around the superexchange energy. Conventional observables, such as spin susceptibility, are furthermore computed from the microscopic snapshots of the system. Starting from a magnetic polaron regime, we find the system evolves into a Fermi liquid featuring incommensurate magnetic fluctuations and fundamentally altered correlations. The crossover is completed for hole dopings around 30%. Our work benchmarks theoretical approaches and discusses possible connections to lowertemperature phenomena.

##### Confinement and Mott Transitions of Dynamical Charges in One-Dimensional Lattice Gauge Theories

M. Kebric, L. Barbiero, C. Reinmoser, U. Schollwöck, F. Grusdt

Physical Review Letters 127 (16), 167203 (2021).

Confinement is an ubiquitous phenomenon when matter couples to gauge fields, which manifests itself in a linear string potential between two static charges. Although gauge fields can be integrated out in one dimension, they can mediate nonlocal interactions which in turn influence the paradigmatic Luttinger liquid properties. However, when the charges become dynamical and their densities finite, understanding confinement becomes challenging. Here we show that confinement in 1D Z(2) lattice gauge theories, with dynamical matter fields and arbitrary densities, is related to translational symmetry breaking in a nonlocal basis. The exact transformation to this string-length basis leads us to an exact mapping of Luttinger parameters reminiscent of a Luther-Emery rescaling. We include the effects of local, but beyond contact, interactions between the matter particles, and show that confined mesons can form a Mott-insulating state when the deconfined charges cannot. While the transition to the Mott state cannot be detected in the Green's function of the charges, we show that the metallic state is characterized by hidden off-diagonal quasi-long-range order. Our predictions provide new insights to the physics of confinement of dynamical charges, and can be experimentally addressed in Rydberg-dressed quantum gases in optical lattices.

##### Higher-order spin-hole correlations around a localized charge impurity

Y. Wang, A. Bohrdt, S. H. Ding, J. Koepsell, E. Demler, F. Grusdt

Physical Review Research 3 (3), 33204 (2021).

Analysis of higher-order correlation functions has become a powerful tool for investigating interacting many-body systems in quantum simulators, such as quantum gas microscopes. Experimental measurements of mixed spin-charge correlation functions in the 2D Hubbard have been used to study equilibrium properties of magnetic polarons and to identify coherent and incoherent regimes of their dynamics. In this paper we consider theoretically an extension of this technique to systems which use a pinning potential to reduce the mobility of a single dopant in the Mott insulating regime of the 2D Hubbard model. We find that localization of the dopant has a dramatic effect on its magnetic dressing. The connected third order spin correlations are weakened in the case of a mobile hole but strengthened near an immobile hole. In the case of the fifth-order correlation function, we find that its bare value has opposite signs in cases of the mobile and of fully pinned dopant, whereas the connected part is similar for both cases. We study suppression of higher-order correlators by thermal fluctuations and demonstrate that they can be observed up to temperatures comparable to the spin-exchange energy J. We discuss implications of our results for understanding the interplay of spin and charge in doped Mott insulators.

##### Z(2) lattice gauge theories and Kitaev's toric code: A scheme for analog quantum simulation

L. Homeier, C. Schweizer, M. Aidelsburger, A. Fedorov, F. Grusdt

Physical Review B 104 (8), 85138 (2021).

Kitaev's toric code is an exactly solvable model with Z(2)-topological order, which has potential applications in quantum computation and error correction. However, a direct experimental realization remains an open challenge. Here, we propose a building block for Z(2) lattice gauge theories coupled to dynamical matter and demonstrate how it allows for an implementation of the toric-code ground state and its topological excitations. This is achieved by introducing separate matter excitations on individual plaquettes, whose motion induce the required plaquette terms. The proposed building block is realized in the second-order coupling regime and is well suited for implementations with superconducting qubits. Furthermore, we propose a pathway to prepare topologically nontrivial initial states during which a large gap on the order of the underlying coupling strength is present. This is verified by both analytical arguments and numerical studies. Moreover, we outline experimental signatures of the ground-state wave function and introduce a minimal braiding protocol. Detecting a p-phase shift between Ramsey fringes in this protocol reveals the anyonic excitations of the toric-code Hamiltonian in a system with only three triangular plaquettes. Our work paves the way for realizing non-Abelian anyons in analog quantum simulators.

##### Coupling a Mobile Hole to an Antiferromagnetic Spin Background: Transient Dynamics of a Magnetic Polaron

G. Ji, M. Q. Xu, L. H. Kendrick, C. S. Chiu, J. C. Bruggenjurgen, D. Greif, A. Bohrdt, F. Grusdt, E. Demler, M. Lebrat, M. Greiner

Physical Review X 11 (2), 21022 (2021).

Understanding the interplay between charge and spin and its effects on transport is a ubiquitous challenge in quantum many-body systems. In the Fermi-Hubbard model, this interplay is thought to give rise to magnetic polarons, whose dynamics may explain emergent properties of quantum materials such as high-temperature superconductivity. In this work, we use a cold-atom quantum simulator to directly observe the formation dynamics and subsequent spreading of individual magnetic polarons. Measuring the density- and spin-resolved evolution of a single hole in a 2D Hubbard insulator with short-range antiferromagnetic correlations reveals fast initial delocalization and a dressing of the spin background, indicating polaron formation. At long times, we find that dynamics are slowed down by the spin exchange time, and they are compatible with a polaronic model with strong density and spin coupling. Our work enables the study of out-of-equilibrium emergent phenomena in the Fermi-Hubbard model, one dopant at a time.

##### Bosonic Pfaffian state in the Hofstadter-Bose-Hubbard model

F. A. Palm, M. Buser, J. Leonard, M. Aidelsburger, U. Schollwöck, F. Grusdt

Physical Review B 103 (16), L161101 (2021).

Topological states of matter, such as fractional quantum Hall states, are an active field of research due to their exotic excitations. In particular, ultracold atoms in optical lattices provide a highly controllable and adaptable platform to study such new types of quantum matter. However, finding a clear route to realize non-Abelian quantum Hall states in these systems remains challenging. Here we use the density-matrix renormalization-group (DMRG) method to study the Hofstadter-Bose-Hubbard model at filling factor v = 1 and find strong indications that at alpha = 1/6 magnetic flux quanta per plaquette the ground state is a lattice analog of the continuum non-Abelian Pfaffian. We study the on-site correlations of the ground state, which indicate its paired nature at v = 1, and find an incompressible state characterized by a charge gap in the bulk. We argue that the emergence of a charge density wave on thin cylinders and the behavior of the two- and three-particle correlation functions at short distances provide evidence for the state being closely related to the continuum Pfaffian. The signatures discussed in this letter are accessible in current cold atom experiments and we show that the Pfaffian-like state is readily realizable in few-body systems using adiabatic preparation schemes.

##### Radiofrequency spectroscopy of one-dimensional trapped Bose polarons: crossover from the adiabatic to the diabatic regime

S. I. Mistakidis, G. M. Koutentakis, F. Grusdt, H. R. Sadeghpour, P. Schmelcher

New Journal of Physics 23 (4), 43051 (2021).

We investigate the crossover of the impurity-induced dynamics, in trapped one-dimensional Bose polarons subject to radio frequency (RF) pulses of varying intensity, from an adiabatic to a diabatic regime. Utilizing adiabatic pulses for either weak repulsive or attractive impurity-medium interactions, a multitude of polaronic excitations or mode-couplings of the impurity-bath interaction with the collective breathing motion of the bosonic medium are spectrally resolved. We find that for strongly repulsive impurity-bath interactions, a temporal orthogonality catastrophe manifests in resonances in the excitation spectra where impurity coherence vanishes. When two impurities are introduced, impurity-impurity correlations, for either attractive or strong repulsive couplings, induce a spectral shift of the resonances with respect to the single impurity. For a heavy impurity, the polaronic peak is accompanied by a series of equidistant side-band resonances, related to interference of the impurity spin dynamics and the sound waves of the bath. In all cases, we enter the diabatic transfer regime for an increasing bare Rabi frequency of the RF field with a Lorentzian spectral shape featuring a single polaronic resonance. The findings in this work on the effects of external trap, RF pulse and impurity-impurity interaction should have implications for the new generations of cold-atom experiments.

##### Dominant Fifth-Order Correlations in Doped Quantum Antiferromagnets

A. Bohrdt, Y. Wang, J. Koepsell, M. Kanasz-Nagy, E. Demler, F. Grusdt

Physical Review Letters 126 (2), 26401 (2021).

Traditionally, one- and two-point correlation functions are used to characterize many-body systems. In strongly correlated quantum materials, such as the doped 2D Fermi-Hubbard system, these may no longer be sufficient, because higher-order correlations are crucial to understanding the character of the many-body system and can be numerically dominant. Experimentally, such higher-order correlations have recently become accessible in ultracold atom systems. Here, we reveal strong non-Gaussian correlations in doped quantum antiferromagnets and show that higher-order correlations dominate over lower-order terms. We study a single mobile hole in the t - J model using the density matrix renormalization group and reveal genuine fifth-order correlations which are directly related to the mobility of the dopant. We contrast our results to predictions using models based on doped quantum spin liquids which feature significantly reduced higher-order correlations. Our predictions can be tested at the lowest currently accessible temperatures in quantum simulators of the 2D Fermi-Hubbard model. Finally, we propose to experimentally study the same fifth-order spin-charge correlations as a function of doping. This will help to reveal the microscopic nature of charge carriers in the most debated regime of the Hubbard model, relevant for understanding high-T-c superconductivity.

##### Dynamical formation of a magnetic polaron in a two-dimensional quantum antiferromagnet

A. Bohrdt, F. Grusdt, M. Knap

New Journal of Physics 22 (12), 123023 (2020).

Tremendous recent progress in the quantum simulation of the Hubbard model paves the way to controllably study doped antiferromagnetic Mott insulators. Motivated by these experimental advancements, we numerically study the real-time dynamics of a single hole created in an antiferromagnet on a square lattice, as described by the t-J model. Initially, the hole spreads ballistically with a velocity proportional to the hopping matrix element. At intermediate to long times, the dimensionality as well as the spin background determine the hole dynamics. A hole created in the ground state of a two dimensional (2D) quantum antiferromagnet propagates again ballistically at long times but with a velocity proportional to the spin exchange coupling, showing the formation of a magnetic polaron. We provide an intuitive explanation of this dynamics in terms of a parton construction, which leads to a good quantitative agreement with the numerical tensor network state simulations. In the limit of infinite temperature and no spin exchange couplings, the dynamics can be approximated by a quantum random walk on a Bethe lattice with coordination number z x303,. 4 Adding Ising interactions corresponds to an effective disordered potential, which can dramatically slow down the hole propagation, consistent with subdiffusive dynamics. The study of the hole dynamics paves the way for understanding the microscopic constituents of this strongly correlated quantum state.

##### Z(2) Parton Phases in the Mixed-Dimensional t - J(z) Model

F. Grusdt, L. Pollet

Physical Review Letters 125 (25), 256401 (2020).

We study the interplay of spin and charge degrees of freedom in a doped Ising antiferromagnet, where the motion of charges is restricted to one dimension. The phase diagram of this mixed-dimensional t - J(z) model can be understood in terms of spinless chargons coupled to a Z(2) lattice gauge field. The antiferromagnetic couplings give rise to interactions between Z(2) electric field lines which, in turn, lead to a robust stripe phase at low temperatures. At higher temperatures, a confined meson-gas phase is found for low doping whereas at higher doping values, a robust deconfined chargon-gas phase is seen, which features hidden antiferromagnetic order. We confirm these phases in quantum Monte Carlo simulations. Our model can be implemented and its phases detected with existing technology in ultracold atom experiments. The critical temperature for stripe formation with a sufficiently high hole concentration is around the spin-exchange energy J(z), i.e., well within reach of current experiments.

##### Skyrmion ground states of rapidly rotating few-fermion systems

L. Palm, F. Grusdt, P. M. Preiss

New Journal of Physics 22 (8), 83037 (2020).

We show that ultracold fermions in an artificial magnetic field open up a new window to the physics of the spinful fractional quantum Hall (FQH) effect. We numerically study the lowest energy states of strongly interacting few-fermion systems in rapidly rotating optical microtraps. We find that skyrmion-like ground states with locally ferromagnetic, long-range spin textures emerge. To realize such states experimentally, rotating microtraps with higher-order angular momentum components may be used to prepare fermionic particles in a lowest Landau level. We find parameter regimes in which skyrmion-like ground states should be accessible in current experiments and demonstrate an adiabatic pathway for their preparation in a rapidly rotating harmonic trap. The addition of long range interactions will lead to an even richer interplay between spin textures and FQH physics.

##### Parton theory of angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy spectra in antiferromagnetic Mott insulators

A. Bohrdt, E. Demler, F. Pollmann, M. Knap, F. Grusdt

Physical Review B 102 (3), 35139 (2020).

Angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) has revealed peculiar properties of mobile dopants in correlated antiferromagnets (AFMs). But, describing them theoretically, even in simplified toy models, remains a challenge. Here, we study ARPES spectra of a single mobile hole in the t-J model. Recent progress in the microscopic description of mobile dopants allows us to use a geometric decoupling of spin and charge fluctuations at strong couplings, from which we conjecture a one-to-one relation of the one-dopant spectral function and the spectrum of a constituting spinon in the undoped parent AFM. We thoroughly test this hypothesis for a single hole doped into a two-dimensional Heisenberg AFM by comparing our semianalytical predictions to previous quantum Monte Carlo results and our large-scale time-dependent matrix product state calculations of the spectral function. Our conclusion is supported by a microscopic trial wave function describing spinon-chargon bound states, which captures the momentum and t/J dependence of the quasiparticle residue. From our conjecture we speculate that ARPES measurements in the pseudogap phase of cuprates may directly reveal the Dirac-fermion nature of the constituting spinons. Specifically, we demonstrate that our trial wave function provides a microscopic explanation for the sudden drop of spectral weight around the nodal point associated with the formation of Fermi arcs, assuming that additional frustration suppresses long-range AFM ordering. We benchmark our results by studying the crossover from two to one dimension, where spinons and chargons are confined and deconfined, respectively.

##### Ramsey interferometry of non-Hermitian quantum impurities

F. Tonielli, N. Chakraborty, F. Grusdt, J. Marino

Physical Review Research 2 (3), 32003 (2020).

We introduce a Ramsey pulse scheme which extracts the non-Hermitian Hamiltonian associated with an arbitrary Lindblad dynamics. We propose a related protocol to measure via interferometry a generalized Loschmidt echo of a generic state evolving in time with the non-Hermitian Hamiltonian itself, and we apply the scheme to a one-dimensional weakly interacting Bose gas coupled to a stochastic atomic impurity. The Loschmidt echo is mapped into a functional integral from which we calculate the long-time decohering dynamics at arbitrary impurity strengths. For strong dissipation we uncover the phenomenology of a quantum many-body Zeno effect: Corrections to the decoherence exponent resulting from the impurity self-energy become purely imaginary, in contrast to the regime of small dissipation where they instead enhance the decay of quantum coherences. Our results illustrate the prospects for experiments employing Ramsey interferometry to study dissipative quantum impurities in condensed matter and cold-atom systems.

##### Fractional corner charges in a two-dimensional superlattice Bose-Hubbard model

J. Bibo, I. Lovas, Y. Z. You, F. Grusdt, F. Pollmann

Physical Review B 102 (4), 41126 (2020).

We study higher order topology in the presence of strong interactions in a two-dimensional, experimentally accessible superlattice Bose-Hubbard model with alternating hoppings and strong on-site repulsion. We evaluate the phase diagram of the model around half-filling using the density renormalization group ansatz and find two gapped phases separated by a gapless superfluid region. We demonstrate that the gapped states realize two distinct higher order symmetry protected topological phases, which are protected by a combination of charge conservation and C-4 lattice symmetry. The phases are distinguished in terms of a many-body topological invariant and a quantized, experimentally accessible fractional corner charge that is robust against arbitrary, symmetry preserving edge manipulations. We support our claims by numerically studying the full counting statistics of the corner charge, finding a sharp distribution peaked around the quantized values. Our results allow for a direct comparison with experiments and represent a confirmation of theoretically predicted higher order topology in a strongly interacting system. Experimentally, the fractional corner charge can be observed in ultracold atomic settings using state of the art quantum gas microscopy.

##### Confined Phases of One-Dimensional Spinless Fermions Coupled to Z(2) Gauge Theory

U. Borla, R. Verresen, F. Grusdt, S. Moroz

Physical Review Letters 124 (12), 120503 (2020).

We investigate a quantum many-body lattice system of one-dimensional spinless fermions interacting with a dynamical Z(2) gauge field. The gauge field mediates long-range attraction between fermions resulting in their confinement into bosonic dimers. At strong coupling we develop an exactly solvable effective theory of such dimers with emergent constraints. Even at generic coupling and fermion density, the model can be rewritten as a local spin chain. Using the density matrix renormalization group the system is shown to form a Luttinger liquid, indicating the emergence of fractionalized excitations despite the confinement of lattice fermions. In a finite chain we observe the doubling of the period of Friedel oscillations which paves the way towards experimental detection of confinement in this system. We discuss the possibility of a Mott phase at the commensurate filling 2/3.

##### Z(2) characterization for three-dimensional multiband Hubbard models

B. Irsigler, J. H. Zheng, F. Grusdt, W. Hofstetter

Physical Review Research 2 (1), 13299 (2020).

We introduce three numerical methods for characterizing the topological phases of three-dimensional multiband Hubbard models based on twisted boundary conditions, Wilson loops, as well as the local topological marker. We focus on the half-filled, three-dimensional time-reversal-invariant Hofstadter model with finite spin-orbit coupling. Besides the weak and strong topological insulator phases we find a nodal line semimetal in the parameter regime between the two three-dimensional topological insulator phases. Using dynamical mean-field theory combined with the topological Hamiltonian approach we find stabilization of these three-dimensional topological states due to the Hubbard interaction. We study surface states which exhibit an asymmetry between left and right surfaces originating from the broken parity symmetry of the system. Our results set the stage for further research on inhomogeneous three-dimensional topological systems, proximity effects, topological Mott insulators, nontrivially linked nodal line semimetals, and circuit-based quantum simulators.

##### Evaluation of time-dependent correlators after a local quench in iPEPS: hole motion in the t - J model

C. Hubig, A. Bohrdt, M. Knap, F. Grusdt, J. I. Cirac

Scipost Physics 8 (2), 21 (2020).

Infinite projected entangled pair states (iPEPS) provide a convenient variational description of infinite, translationally-invariant two-dimensional quantum states. However, the simulation of local excitations is not directly possible due to the translationally-invariant ansatz. Furthermore, as iPEPS are either identical or orthogonal, expectation values between different states as required during the evaluation of non-equal-time correlators are ill-defined. Here, we show that by introducing auxiliary states on each site, it becomes possible to simulate both local excitations and evaluate non-equal-time correlators in an iPEPS setting under real-time evolution. We showcase the method by simulating the t - J model after a single hole has been placed in the half-filled antiferromagnetic background and evaluating both return probabilities and spin correlation functions, as accessible in quantum gas microscopes.

##### Multiparticle Interactions for Ultracold Atoms in Optical Tweezers: Cyclic Ring-Exchange Terms

A. Bohrdt, A. Omran, E. Demler, S. Gazit, F. Grusdt

Physical Review Letters 124 (7), 73601 (2020).

Dominant multiparticle interactions can give rise to exotic physical phases with anyonic excitations and phase transitions without local order parameters. In spin systems with a global SU(N) symmetry, cyclic ring-exchange couplings constitute the first higher-order interaction in this class. In this Letter, we propose a protocol showing how SU(N)-invariant multibody interactions can he implemented in optical tweezer arrays. We utilize the flexibility to rearrange the tweezer configuration on short timescales compared to the typical lifetimes, in combination with strong nonlocal Rydberg interactions. As a specific example, we demonstrate how a chiral cyclic ring-exchange Hamiltonian can be implemented in a two-leg ladder geometry. We study its phase diagram using density-matrix renormalization group simulations and identify phases with dominant vector chirality, a ferromagnet, and an emergent spin-1 Haldane phase. We also discuss how the proposed protocol can he utilized to implement the strongly frustrated J-Q model, a candidate for hosting a deconfined quantum critical point.

##### Time-resolved observation of spin-charge deconfinement in fermionic Hubbard chains

J. Vijayan, P. Sompet, G. Salomon, J. Koepsell, S. Hirthe, A. Bohrdt, F. Grusdt, I. Bloch, C. Gross

Science 367 (6474), 186-+ (2020).

Elementary particles carry several quantum numbers, such as charge and spin. However, in an ensemble of strongly interacting particles, the emerging degrees of freedom can fundamentally differ from those of the individual constituents. For example, one-dimensional systems are described by independent quasiparticles carrying either spin (spinon) or charge (holon). Here, we report on the dynamical deconfinement of spin and charge excitations in real space after the removal of a particle in Fermi-Hubbard chains of ultracold atoms. Using space- and time-resolved quantum gas microscopy, we tracked the evolution of the excitations through their signatures in spin and charge correlations. By evaluating multipoint correlators, we quantified the spatial separation of the excitations in the context of fractionalization into single spinons and holons at finite temperatures.

##### Floquet approach to Z(2) lattice gauge theories with ultracold atoms in optical lattices

C. Schweizer, F. Grusdt, M. Berngruber, L. Barbiero, E. Demler, N. Goldman, I. Bloch, M. Aidelsburger

Nature Physics 15 (11), 1168-1173 (2019).

Quantum simulation has the potential to investigate gauge theories in strongly interacting regimes, which are currently inaccessible through conventional numerical techniques. Here, we take a first step in this direction by implementing a Floquet-based method for studying Z(2) I lattice gauge theories using two-component ultracold atoms in a double-well potential. For resonant periodic driving at the on-site interaction strength and an appropriate choice of the modulation parameters, the effective Floquet Hamiltonian exhibits Z(2) I symmetry. We study the dynamics of the system for different initial states and critically contrast the observed evolution with a theoretical analysis of the full time-dependent Hamiltonian of the periodically driven lattice model. We reveal challenges that arise due to symmetry-breaking terms and outline potential pathways to overcome these limitations. Our results provide important insights for future studies of lattice gauge theories based on Floquet techniques.

##### Coupling ultracold matter to dynamical gauge fields in optical lattices: From flux attachment to Z(2) lattice gauge theories

L. Barbiero, C. Schweizer, M. Aidelsburger, E. Demler, N. Goldman, F. Grusdt

Science Advances 5 (10), eaav7444 (2019).

From the standard model of particle physics to strongly correlated electrons, various physical settings are formulated in terms of matter coupled to gauge fields. Quantum simulations based on ultracold atoms in optical lattices provide a promising avenue to study these complex systems and unravel the underlying many-body physics. Here, we demonstrate how quantized dynamical gauge fields can be created in mixtures of ultracold atoms in optical lattices, using a combination of coherent lattice modulation with strong interactions. Specifically, we propose implementation of Z(2) lattice gauge theories coupled to matter, reminiscent of theories previously introduced in high-temperature superconductivity. We discuss a range of settings from zero-dimensional toy models to ladders featuring transitions in the gauge sector to extended two-dimensional systems. Mastering lattice gauge theories in optical lattices constitutes a new route toward the realization of strongly correlated systems, with properties dictated by an interplay of dynamical matter and gauge fields.

##### Dissipative correlated dynamics of a moving impurity immersed in a Bose-Einstein condensate

S. I. Mistakidis, F. Grusdt, G. M. Koutentakis, P. Schmelcher

New Journal of Physics 21 (10), 103026 (2019).

We unravel the nonequilibrium correlated quantum quench dynamics of an impurity traveling through a harmonically confined Bose-Einstein condensate in one-dimension. For weak repulsive interspecies interactions the impurity oscillates within the bosonic gas. At strong repulsions and depending on its prequench position the impurity moves towards an edge of the bosonic medium and subsequently equilibrates. This equilibration being present independently of the initial velocity, the position and the mass of the impurity is inherently related to the generation of entanglement in the many-body system. Focusing on attractive interactions the impurity performs a damped oscillatory motion within the bosonic bath, a behavior that becomes more evident for stronger attractions. To elucidate our understanding of the dynamics an effective potential picture is constructed. The effective mass of the emergent quasiparticle is measured and found to be generically larger than the bare one, especially for strong attractions. In all cases, a transfer of energy from the impurity to the bosonic medium takes place. Finally, by averaging over a sample of simulated in situ single-shot images we expose how the single-particle density distributions and the two-body interspecies correlations can be probed.

##### Classifying snapshots of the doped Hubbard model with machine learning

A. Bohrdt, C. S. Chiu, G. Jig, M. Q. Xu, D. Greif, M. Greiner, E. Demler, F. Grusdt, M. Knap

Nature Physics 15 (9), 921-924 (2019).

Quantum gas microscopes for ultracold atoms can provide high-resolution real-space snapshots of complex many-body systems. We implement machine learning to analyse and classify such snapshots of ultracold atoms. Specifically, we compare the data from an experimental realization of the two-dimensional Fermi-Hubbard model to two theoretical approaches: a doped quantum spin liquid state of resonating valence bond type(1,2), and the geometric string theory(3,4), describing a state with hidden spin order. This technique considers all available information without a potential bias towards one particular theory by the choice of an observable and can therefore select the theory that is more predictive in general. Up to intermediate doping values, our algorithm tends to classify experimental snapshots as geometric-string-like, as compared to the doped spin liquid. Our results demonstrate the potential for machine learning in processing the wealth of data obtained through quantum gas microscopy for new physical insights.

##### Topological polarons, quasiparticle invariants, and their detection in one-dimensional symmetry-protected phases

F. Grusdt, N. Y. Yao, E. A. Demler

Physical Review B 100 (7), 75126 (2019).

In the presence of symmetries, one-dimensional quantum systems can exhibit topological order, which in many cases can be characterized by a quantized value of the many-body geometric Zak or Berry phase. We establish that this topological Zak phase is directly related to the Zak phase of an elementary quasiparticle excitation in the system. By considering various systems, we establish this connection for a number of different interacting phases including the Su-Schrieffer-Heeger model, p-wave topological superconductors, and the Haldane chain. Crucially, in contrast to the bulk many-body Zak phase associated with the ground state of such systems, the topological invariant associated with quasiparticle excitations (above this ground state) exhibits a more natural route for direct experimental detection. To this end, we build upon recent work [F. Grusdt, et al., Nat. Commun. 7, 11994 (2016)] and demonstrate that mobile quantum impurities can be used, in combination with Ramsey interferometry and Bloch oscillations, to directly measure these quasiparticle topological invariants. Finally, a concrete experimental realization of our protocol for dimerized Mott insulators in ultracold atomic systems is discussed and analyzed.

##### String patterns in the doped Hubbard model

C. S. Chiu, G. Ji, A. Bohrdt, M. Q. Xu, M. Knap, E. Demler, F. Grusdt, M. Greiner, D. Greif

Science 365 (6450), 251-+ (2019).

Understanding strongly correlated quantum many-body states is one of the most difficult challenges in modern physics. For example, there remain fundamental open questions on the phase diagram of the Hubbard model, which describes strongly correlated electrons in solids. In this work, we realize the Hubbard Hamiltonian and search for specific patterns within the individual images of many realizations of strongly correlated ultracold fermions in an optical lattice. Upon doping a cold-atom antiferromagnet, we find consistency with geometric strings, entities that may explain the relationship between hole motion and spin order, in both pattern-based and conventional observables. Our results demonstrate the potential for pattern recognition to provide key insights into cold-atom quantum many-body systems.

##### Microscopic spinon-chargon theory of magnetic polarons in the t-J model

F. Grusdt, A. Bohrdt, E. Demler

Physical Review B 99 (22), 224422 (2019).

The interplay of spin and charge degrees of freedom, introduced by doping mobile holes into a Mott insulator with strong antiferromagnetic (AFM) correlations, is at the heart of strongly correlated matter such as high-T-C cuprate superconductors. Here, we capture this interplay in the strong coupling regime and propose a trial wave function of mobile holes in an AFM. Our method provides a microscopic justification for a class of theories which describe doped holes moving in an AFM environment as mesonlike bound states of spinons and chargons. We discuss a model of such bound states from the perspective of geometric strings, which describe a fluctuating lattice geometry introduced by the fast motion of the chargon, relative to the spinon. This is demonstrated to give rise to short-range hidden string order, signatures of which have recently been revealed by ultracold atom experiments at elevated temperatures. We present evidence for such short-range hidden string correlations also at zero temperature by performing numerical density-matrix renormalization-group simulations. To test our microscopic approach, we calculate the ground-state energy and dispersion relation of a hole in an AFM, as well as the magnetic polaron radius, and obtain good quantitative agreement with advanced numerical simulations at strong coupling. We discuss extensions of our analysis to systems without long-range AFM order to systems with short-range magnetic correlations.