Optomechanical Self-Structuring in a Bose-Einstein Condensate

Dr Gordon Robb


A team of researchers from the department's Optics division have recently published a paper on Optomechanical Self-Structuring in a Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) in Physical Review Letters (PRL 114, 173903 (2015)). The team consists of Gordon Robb, former PhD student Enrico Tesio, Gian-Luca Oppo, Willie Firth, Thorsten Ackemann and visiting professor Rodolfo Bonifacio.

The paper describes a theoretical analysis of a BEC interacting with light which, after passing through the BEC, is reflected by a mirror. The BEC-light interaction is shown to give rise to a self-structuring instability in which both the light intensity and the BEC density spontaneously develop spatial modulations resulting in the BEC behaving as a supersolid (see figure). The paper shows that the wave-like nature of the BEC gives rise to an instability threshold which remains finite even at zero temperature, in contrast to similar self-structuring instabilities in classical cold gases. The results are expected to impact on the understanding of novel, self-organized quantum phases involving coherent light and matter.

27th May 2015