Symmetry breaking in a condensate of light and its use as a quantum sensor

Bennett, R. , Steinbrecht, D., Gorbachev, Y. and Buhmann, S. Y. (2020) Symmetry breaking in a condensate of light and its use as a quantum sensor. Physical Review Applied, 13(4), 044031. (doi: 10.1103/PhysRevApplied.13.044031)

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Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) represent one of the very few manifestations of purely quantum effects on a macroscopic level. Recently, a new type of condensate has been observed—the photon BEC, where light in a dye-filled cavity thermalizes with dye molecules under the influence of an external driving laser, condensing to the lowest-energy mode. Here, we consider medium-induced symmetry breaking in a photon BEC and show that it can be used as a quantum sensor. The introduction of polarizable objects such as chiral molecules lifts the degeneracy between cavity modes of different polarizations. Even a tiny imbalance is imprinted on the condensate polarization, in a “winner-takes-it-all” effect. When used as a sensor for enantiomeric excess, the predicted sensitivity exceeds that of contemporary methods based on circular dichroism. Our results introduce a symmetry-breaking mechanism that is independent of the external pump and demonstrate that the photon BEC can be used for practical purposes.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:R.B. acknowledges financial support by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Y.G. and S.Y.B. thank the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Grant No. BU 1803/3-1476). R.B. and S.Y.B. both acknowledge support from the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bennett, Dr Robert
Authors: Bennett, R., Steinbrecht, D., Gorbachev, Y., and Buhmann, S. Y.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Physics and Astronomy
Journal Name:Physical Review Applied
Publisher:American Physical Society
ISSN (Online):2331-7019
Published Online:13 April 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 American Physical Society
First Published:First published in Physical Review Applied 13(4): 044031
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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