Thomas Hartke, Botond Oreg, Carter Turnbaugh, Ningyuan Jia, Martin Zwierlein
Pairing of fermions lies at the heart of superconductivity, the hierarchy of nuclear binding energies and superfluidity of neutron stars. The Hubbard model of attractively interacting fermions provides a paradigmatic setting for fermion pairing, featuring a crossover between Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC) of tightly bound pairs and Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) superfluidity of long-range Cooper pairs, and a “pseudo-gap” region where pairs form already above the superfluid critical temperature. We here directly observe the non-local nature of fermion pairing in a Hubbard lattice gas, employing spin- and density-resolved imaging of ∼1000 fermionic 40K atoms under a bilayer microscope. Complete fermion pairing is revealed by the vanishing of global spin fluctuations with increasing attraction. In the strongly correlated regime, the fermion pair size is found to be on the order of the average interparticle spacing. We resolve polaronic correlations around individual spins, resulting from the interplay of non-local pair fluctuations and charge-density-wave order. Our techniques open the door toward in-situ observation of fermionic superfluids in a Hubbard lattice gas.