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Bose-Einstein condensates, cold atomic gases and quantum fluids
Since the experimental realization of BEC in 1995 the study of ultracold
atomic gases has become a wide and fascinating field of physics involving
hundreds of researchers in many laboratories around the world.
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Quantum Fluids of Light
An implicit assumption of Newton's corpuscular theory is that the basic constituents of light do not mutually interact. Had Newton foreseen the possibility of efficient collisions between these corpuscles, would he have imagined the possibility of a luminous liquid of such particles? This research line aims at investigating the novel properties of light in systems with large optical nonlinearities where the many photons forming the light field display a rich collective dynamics. As compared to standard many-body systems like helium and ultracold atoms, new perspectives are opened by the intrinsic non-equilibrium nature of the photon gas. A number of material systems can be used for these studies, from nonlinear optical crystals in the strong light-matter coupling regime to semiconductor microcavities and even circuit QED devices in the microwave domain. A review article has been recently written on this topic: Quantum Fluids of Light, I. Carusotto and C. Ciuti, Reviews of Modern Physics 85, 299 (2013).
Superfluidy of light has been experimentally demonstrated at LKB in Paris, following a previous Trento-Paris prediction: a fluid of dressed photons (exciton-polaritons) was sent against a structural defect of a microcavity. While at high speeds a variety of perturbations appear (Cerenkov cones, dark solitons, vortices), at low speeds no excitation is created in the fluid. The long-term objectives of this research line are to explore what new exotic states of matter can be generated in quantum fluids of light and, conversely, how many-body effects in the fluid of light may reflect into new applications to quantum photonic technologies.