I want to make in TikZ or MetaPost an image of a two dimensional lattice with oscillations like these:

optical lattice another optical lattice

(Source: http://www.uibk.ac.at/th-physik/qo/research/opticallattices.html)

or this one:

yet another optical lattice

(Source: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2008/09/12-01.html)

I don't know even know how to begin.

  • 3
    Unfortunately I can't vote to close because this question has an open bounty. However I think that your question is off topic. Short version -- Can you do the job for me. – Marco Daniel May 7 '12 at 17:32
  • 2
    Please don't pile on downvotes. A net score of -1 is enough to show that the question needs to be improved. More downvotes should be reserved for questions that are unsalvageable or spam. – Jake May 7 '12 at 18:00
  • I don't want that people do the job for me I just want some ideas or which package to use! In fact I tried it alone and I did not find a good and short solution! – PanAkry May 7 '12 at 20:16
  • IMHO this is not more or less off topic than How to draw nanotubes with TeX? – cgnieder May 8 '12 at 21:29

Here's something to get you (or perhaps someone else) started

enter image description here

I realize that the balls aren't exactly where you want them, but you can tweak the positions yourself.

The idea was to use a surface plot of the function f(x,y)=cos(x)*cos(y) using the pgfplots package.

The only subtlety is to loop through the balls, which requires the loop to be wrapped in \pgfplotsextra{ ... }.

I borrowed Altermundus' ball shading from How can we draw a Christmas tree with decorations, using TikZ?


% borrowed from Altermundus' Christmas tree
% https://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/39149/how-can-we-draw-a-christmas-tree-with-decorations-using-tikz/39250#39250
 \shadedraw[ball color=red] (0,0) circle (60pt);


    y domain=-2*pi:2*pi
    \foreach \deco in {
        (axis cs:-1,-1,1),
        (axis cs:-2,-2,1),
        (axis cs:3,3,1),
        (axis cs:-3,-3,1),
        (axis cs:4,4,1)
        \node at \deco {\usebox{\ball}};
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  • Thanks but I have the following error:pgfplots@addplotimpl@expression@curly. Any hint? – PanAkry May 7 '12 at 20:14
  • 2
    @PanAkry make sure your distribution is up to date – cmhughes May 7 '12 at 20:33

I made few modifications in the previous code and got this result:

Hubbard model for an optical lattice

Here is my version:




\definecolor{lightblue}{rgb}{0.2,0.2, 0.9}

    \shadedraw[ball color=#1, draw=none] (axis cs:#2,#3,#4) circle (#5 pt); 

\def \radiusparticle{5.5}
\def \zparticle{-0.5}
\def \shiftdoubleoccupation{pi*0.095}

% OBS:
% top view = 90, 90 -> useful if you want to find the positions of particles in xy-plan
% wanted view = 25, 65 -> angles phi and theta that I set for the perspective 

    axis line style={draw=none},
    tick style={draw=none},
        y domain=-2.15*pi:2.15*pi,


    \foreach \ix/\iy in {-2/1,2/1,-2/-1,2/-1}{
    \foreach \ix/\iy in {1/0,1/2,1/-2,-1/2,-1/-2}{


    \node[] (Coulombcenter) at (axis cs: 0+2*\shiftdoubleoccupation, -pi+2*\shiftdoubleoccupation, 1.0) {};

    \node[anchor=center, align=center, font=\large \rmfamily \bfseries \color{black}, circle, fill=lightgray!70!black, rounded corners=1.0pt, inner sep=4.15pt] (Coulombcircle2) at ($(Coulombcenter.center)+(0,0)$) {\hphantom{$U$}};

    \node[anchor=center, align=center, font=\large \rmfamily \bfseries \color{black}, circle, top color=blue!30!lightgray, bottom color=red!50!lightgray, rounded corners=1.0pt, inner sep=3.75pt] (Coulombcircle) at ($(Coulombcenter.center)+(0,0)$) {\hphantom{$U$}};

    \node[anchor=center, align=center, font=\large \rmfamily \bfseries \color{black}, circle, top color=lightgray!50!white, bottom color=lightgray!50!gray, rounded corners=1.0pt, inner sep=0.25pt] (Coulombtext) at ($(Coulombcenter.center)+(0,0,0)$) {$U$};

    \node[] (hoppingstart) at (axis cs: -pi, 0, \zparticle){};
    \node[] (hoppingend) at (axis cs: 0, pi, \zparticle) {};

    \draw[->,myarrowcontour] ($(hoppingstart.center)+(\radiusparticle,\radiusparticle,0.5*\radiusparticle)$) to node[auto, swap, above, font=\Large \color{white}] {}($(hoppingend.south)+(3.*\radiusparticle,3*\radiusparticle, -2.*\radiusparticle)$);

    \draw[->,myarrow] ($(hoppingstart.center)+(\radiusparticle,\radiusparticle,0.5*\radiusparticle)$) to node[auto, swap, above, font=\Large \color{white}] {\color{black}$t$}($(hoppingend.south)+(2*\radiusparticle,2*\radiusparticle, 1*\radiusparticle)$); 




Where, I defined the arrow styles as

    myarrowcontour/.style={lightblue!30!lightgray, >=latex, line width=5pt, bend left=45},
    myarrow/.style={lightblue, >=latex, line width=3.5pt, bend left=45}

but changes can improve the final result.

I hope it helps!

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