Abstract:
This chapter presents an overview of the properties of a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) trapped in a periodic potential. This system has attracted a wide interest in the last years, and a few excellent reviews of the field have already appeared in the literature (see, for instance, [1-3] and references therein). For this reason, and because of the huge amount of published results, we do not pretend here to be comprehensive, but we will be content to provide a flavor of the richness of this subject, together with some useful references. On the other hand, there are good reasons for our effort. Probably, the most significant is that BEC in periodic potentials is a truly interdisciplinary problem, with obvious connections with electrons in crystal lattices, polarons and photons in optical fibers. Moreover, the BEC experimentalists have reached such a high level of accuracy to create in the lab, so to speak, paradigmatic Hamiltonians, which were first introduced as idealized theoretical models to study, among others, dynamical instabilities or quantum phase transitions.

Abstract:
We study the dynamical phase diagram of a dilute Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) trapped in a periodic potential. The dynamics is governed by a discrete non-linear Schr\"odinger equation: intrinsically localized excitations, including discrete solitons and breathers, can be created even if the BEC's interatomic potential is repulsive. Furthermore, we analyze the Anderson-Kasevich experiment [Science 282, 1686 (1998)], pointing out that mean field effects lead to a coherent destruction of the interwell Bloch oscillations.

Abstract:
The aim of the paper is to present numerical results supporting the presence of conformal invariance in three dimensional statistical mechanics models at criticality and to elucidate the geometric aspects of universality. As a case study we study three dimensional percolation at criticality in bounded domains. Both on discrete and continuous models of critical percolation, we test by numerical experiments the invariance of quantities in finite domains under conformal transformations focusing on crossing probabilities. Our results show clear evidence of the onset of conformal invariance in finite realizations especially for the continuum percolation models. Finally we propose a simple analytical function approximating the crossing probability among two spherical caps on the surface of a sphere and confront it with the numerical results.

Abstract:
We consider two weakly coupled Richardson models to study the formation of a relative phase and the Josephson dynamics between two mesoscopic attractively interacting fermionic systems: our results apply to superconducting properties of coupled ultrasmall metallic grains and to Cooper-pairing superfluidity in neutral systems with a finite number of fermions. We discuss how a definite relative phase between the two systems emerges and how it can be conveniently extracted from the many-body wavefunction: we find that a definite relative phase difference emerges even for very small numbers of pairs ~10. The Josephson dynamics and the current-phase characteristics are then investigated, showing that the critical current has a maximum at the BCS-BEC crossover. For the considered initial conditions a two-state model gives a good description of the dynamics and of the current-phase characteristics.

Abstract:
We study the discrete nonlinear Schr\"odinger equation (DNLS) in an annular geometry with on-site defects. The dynamics of a traveling plane-wave maps onto an effective ''non-rigid pendulum'' Hamiltonian. The different regimes include the complete reflection and refocusing of the initial wave, solitonic structures, and a superfluid state. In the superfluid regime, which occurs above a critical value of nonlinearity, a plane-wave travels coherently through the randomly distributed defects. This superfluidity criterion for the DNLS is analogous to (yet very different from) the Landau superfluidity criteria in translationally invariant systems. Experimental implications for the physics of Bose-Einstein condensate gases trapped in optical potentials and of arrays of optical fibers are discussed.

Abstract:
We investigate the superfluid properties of a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) trapped in a one dimensional periodic potential. We study, both analytically (in the tight binding limit) and numerically, the Bloch chemical potential, the Bloch energy and the Bogoliubov dispersion relation, and we introduce {\it two} different, density dependent, effective masses and group velocities. The Bogoliubov spectrum predicts the existence of sound waves, and the arising of energetic and dynamical instabilities at critical values of the BEC quasi-momentum which dramatically affect its coherence properties. We investigate the dependence of the dipole and Bloch oscillation frequencies in terms of an effective mass averaged over the density of the condensate. We illustrate our results with several animations obtained solving numerically the time-dependent Gross-Pitaevskii equation.

Abstract:
We investigate the possibility that Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs), loaded on a 2D optical lattice, undergo - at finite temperature - a Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless (BKT) transition. We show that - in an experimentally attainable range of parameters - a planar lattice of BECs is described by the XY model at finite temperature. We demonstrate that the interference pattern of the expanding condensates provides the experimental signature of the BKT transition by showing that, near the critical temperature, the k=0 component of the momentum distribution and the central peak of the atomic density profile sharply decrease. The finite-temperature transition for a 3D optical lattice is also discussed, and the analogies with superconducting Josephson junction networks are stressed through the text.

Abstract:
We discuss the finite-temperature properties of Bose-Einstein condensates loaded on a 2D optical lattice. In an experimentally attainable range of parameters the system is described by the XY model, which undergoes a Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless (BKT) transition driven by the vortex pair unbinding. The interference pattern of the expanding condensates provides the experimental signature of the BKT transition: near the critical temperature, the k=0 component of the momentum distribution sharply decreases.

Abstract:
By using a renormalization group analysis, we study the effect of interparticle interactions on the critical temperature at which the Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless (BKT) transition occurs for Bose-Einstein condensates loaded at finite temperature in a 2D optical lattice. We find that the critical temperature decreases as the interaction energy decreases; when U/J=36/\pi one has a vanishing critical temperature, signaling the possibility of a quantum phase transition of BKT type.

Abstract:
We propose the experimental realization of (3+1) relativistic Dirac fermions using ultracold atoms in a rotating optical lattice or, alternatively, in a synthetic magnetic field. This approach has the advantage to give mass to the Dirac fermions by coupling the ultracold atoms to a Bragg pulse. A dimensional crossover from (3+1) to (2+1) Dirac fermions can be obtained by varying the anisotropy of the lattice. We also discuss under which conditions the interatomic potentials give rise to relativistically invariant interactions among the Dirac fermions.