The Gleam of a Fluid of light: Bose-Einstein Condensation of Photons

Literature seminar abstract

Bose-Einstein Condensation (aka BEC) is a quantum phase transition that for some particles (bosons as well as some coupled fermions) happens at submicrokelvin temperatures. On its own, BEC can bring about very interesting and unusual properties for ordinary particles. However, it becomes even more interesting when we try to study it for quasiparticles like excitons or photons. Most of the theoretical and experimental studies of BEC address particles like atoms. But a growing number of researchers has started wondering if under suitable circumstances light can undergo BEC to form a large number of photons with significant photon-photon interactions. Although this notion is quite acceptable in the light of wave-particle duality in quantum mechanics, it is very challenging partly because the number of photons is not conserved with fluctuations in temperature.1

In this talk I will discuss a recent experimental work that shows with an appropriate choice of a medium that exchanges both heat and particle with the photons, we can observe BEC for these quasiparticles. Their work also shows that it is possible to make a Bose-Einstein condensate in which particle number is not conserved, thus addressing an enduring question in statistical physics.2

(1)           Klaers, J.; Schmitt, J. Nature 2010, 468, 545.

(2)           Carusotto, I.; Ciuti, C. Rev. Mod. Phys. 2013, 85, 299



Division(s): Physical

Speaker: Alireza Shakerpoor

Speaker Institution: Colorado State University

Event Date: 11-16-2017

Event Time: 4:00 PM

Event Location: Chemistry A101

Mixer Time: 3:45 PM

Mixer Location: Chemistry B101E

Host: G. Szamel