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From few to many strongly interacting Rydberg polaritons


This project aims to experimentally realize and study in detail systems of strongly interacting Rydberg polaritons inside a highly nonlinear medium.

We will approach the challenge of realizing many-body Rydberg-polariton systems from two angles. On the one hand we will implement systems of two to ten concurrently interacting polaritons inside a highly elongated ultra-cold atomic cloud. This enables a controlled transition from two- to many-body physics of strongly correlated (quasi-)particles, where all interaction parameters are highly tunable and measurement of the full quantum statistics and correlations through time-resolved photon counting is possible. We will first study in detail the two-body interaction between Rydberg polaritons and then we will enter the regime where one needs to take three- or higher-body interaction into account by measuring photon correlations of third and higher order.

Complementary to the effectively one-dimensional strongly interacting system, we will realize larger three-dimensional polariton liquids with weaker interaction. One of the main questions we will address is to what extend a mean-field treatment of the Rydberg-polariton system is justified and under which condition beyond-mean-field effects become relevant.

Ultimately, we plan to combine the two approaches and to realize strongly correlated polariton systems containing more than 10 polaritons. We will implement novel experimental tools to still extract the full photon statistics and correlations from these systems. This gives unprecedented access to the microscopic details of a strongly correlated system of moderate size.

Principal Investigator

Sebastian Hofferberth, University of Southern Denmark

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