Atoms and light - a pairing that will surprise you

Max Planck Quantum Matter Seminar

  • Date: Jun 9, 2022
  • Time: 03:00 PM - 04:00 PM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: Arno Rauschenbeutel
  • Department of Physics, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
  • Location: CFEL (Bldg. 99)
  • Room: Seminar Room I-III (EG.076-080) and on Zoom
  • Host: Gregor Jotzu
Atoms and light - a pairing that will surprise you

The interaction of a single-mode light field with a single atom or an ensemble of atoms is governed by conceptually simple equations and has been extensively studied. Still, the vectorial properties of light combined with the multilevel structure of real atoms and their collective response yield rich and surprising physics. In our group, we are investigating this topic using nanophotonic components, such as subwavelength-diameter optical fibers and whispering-gallery-mode resonators, to couple light and atoms. I will present three effects that we have recently observed in experiments with these systems and that go beyond the standard description of light-matter coupling. First, light which is tightly confined can locally carry transverse spin angular momentum which leads to propagation direction-dependent emission and absorption of light. Second, when imaging an elliptically polarized emitter with a perfectly focused, aberration-free imaging system, its apparent position differs significantly from the actual position. Third, an ensemble of atoms can change the photon statistics of laser light transmitted through the ensemble, yielding pronounced bunching or anti-bunching. Interestingly, these effects are not limited to a nanophotonic setting and even occur for freely propagating light fields.

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