Zoe Z. Yan, Yiqi Ni, Carsten Robens, Martin W. Zwierlein
Science, 2020 (to be published)
The emergence of quasiparticles in strongly interacting matter represents one of the cornerstones of modern physics. However, when different phases of matter compete near a quantum critical point, the very existence of quasiparticles comes under question. Here we create Bose polarons near quantum criticality by immersing atomic impurities in a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) with near-resonant interactions. Using locally-resolved radiofrequency spectroscopy, we probe the energy, spectral width, and short-range correlations of the impurities as a function of temperature. Far below the superfluid critical temperature, the impurities form well-defined quasiparticles. However, their inverse lifetime, given by their spectral width, is observed to increase linearly with temperature, a hallmark of quantum critical behavior. Close to the BEC critical temperature, the spectral width exceeds the binding energy of the impurities, signaling a breakdown of the quasiparticle picture near quantum criticality.