Indexed on: 11 Aug '05Published on: 11 Aug '05Published in: Physical review letters
We show that the adiabatic motion of ultracold, multilevel atoms in spatially varying laser fields can give rise to effective non-Abelian gauge fields if degenerate adiabatic eigenstates of the atom-laser interaction exist. A pair of such degenerate dark states emerges, e.g., if laser fields couple three internal states of an atom to a fourth common one under pairwise two-photon-resonance conditions. For this so-called tripod scheme we derive general conditions for truly non-Abelian gauge potentials and discuss special examples. In particular we show that using orthogonal laser beams with orbital angular momentum an effective magnetic field can be generated that has a monopole component.