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All-optical control of the quantum flow of a polariton superfluid

By D. Sanvitto, S. Pigeon, A. Amo, D. Ballarini, M. De Giorgi, I. Carusotto, R. Hivet, F. Pisanello, V. G. Sala, P. S. Soares-Guimaraes, R. Houdré, E. Giacobino, C. Ciuti, A. Bramati and G. Gigli


While photons in vacuum are massless particles that do not interact with each other, significant photon-photon interactions appear in suitable nonlinear media, leading to novel hydrodynamic behaviors typical of quantum fluids. Here we show the formation of vortex-antivortex pairs in a Bose-Einstein condensate of exciton-polaritons -a coherent gas of strongly dressed photons- flowing at supersonic speed against an artificial potential barrier created and controlled by a light beam in a planar semiconductor microcavity. The observed hydrodynamical phenomenology is in agreement with original theoretical predictions based on the Gross-Pitaevskii equation, recently generalized to the polariton context. However, in contrast to this theoretical work, we show how the initial position and the subsequent trajectory of the vortices crucially depend on the strength and size of the artificial barrier. Additionally, we demonstrate how a suitably tailored optical beam can be used to permanently trap and store the vortices that are hydrodynamically created in the wake of a natural defect. These observations are borne out by time-dependent theoretical simulations

Topics: Condensed Matter - Mesoscale and Nanoscale Physics
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1038/nphoton.2011.211
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