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Science. 2019 Nov 15;366(6467):894-897. doi: 10.1126/science.aay1334.

Thermally condensing photons into a coherently split state of light.

Author information

1
Institut für Angewandte Physik, Universität Bonn, Wegelerstraße 8, 53115 Bonn, Germany. kurtscheid@iap.uni-bonn.de martin.weitz@uni-bonn.de.
2
Institut für Angewandte Physik, Universität Bonn, Wegelerstraße 8, 53115 Bonn, Germany.
3
Institut für Theoretische Physik, Universität zu Köln, Zülpicher Straße 77, 50937 Cologne, Germany.

Abstract

The quantum state of light plays a crucial role in a wide range of fields, from quantum information science to precision measurements. Whereas complex quantum states can be created for electrons in solid-state materials through mere cooling, optical manipulation and control builds on nonthermodynamic methods. Using an optical dye microcavity, we show that photon wave packets can be split through thermalization within a potential with two minima subject to tunnel coupling. At room temperature, photons condense into a quantum-coherent bifurcated ground state. Fringe signals upon recombination show the relative coherence between the two wells, demonstrating a working interferometer with the nonunitary thermodynamic beam splitter. Our energetically driven optical-state preparation method provides a route for exploring correlated and entangled optical many-body states.

PMID:
31727840
DOI:
10.1126/science.aay1334

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