In this work I present the development of a new experiment to produce quantum degenerate gases of ytterbium. This project aims at realizing artificial gauge fields with ultracold atoms in optical lattices. Combining intense gauge fields with strong on-site interactions is expected to open a new area for ultracold quantum gases, where for instance the atomic analogs of fractional quantum Hall systems could be realized.
First I describe the experimental methods for the production of a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) of 174Yb. This implies magneto-optical trapping on the 1S0-3P1 intercombination transition and a transport of the atomic cloud in an optical dipole trap over a distance of 22 cm. Evaporative cooling in a crossed dipole trap results in the production of pure BECs of about 6x10^4 atoms.
The planned implementation of artificial gauge fields requires the coherent driving of the 1S0-3P0 clock transition of ytterbium. For this purpose an ultrastable laser system at 578 nm, frequency locked to an ultralow expansion (ULE) cavity, has been realized. A precise determination of the temperature zero-crossing point of the ULE cavity allowed us to limit laser frequency drifts below 100 mHz/s. Spectroscopic measurements of the clock transition on a trapped and free falling BEC are presented, where typical linewidths in the kHz range are observed, limited by interatomic interactions.
Finally I present a detailed discussion of the methods to achieve artificial gauge fields in optical lattices and their possible experimental implementation. This includes a scheme to realize a bichromatic state-dependent optical superlattice in a doubly-resonant cavity.