Collective phases of strongly interacting cavity photons

TitleCollective phases of strongly interacting cavity photons
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsWilson, RM, Mahmud, KW, Hu, A, Gorshkov, AV, Hafezi, M, Foss-Feig, M
JournalPhysical Review A
Date Published2016/09/01

We study a coupled array of coherently driven photonic cavities, which maps onto a driven-dissipative XY spin-12 model with ferromagnetic couplings in the limit of strong optical nonlinearities. Using a site-decoupled mean-field approximation, we identify steady state phases with canted antiferromagnetic order, in addition to limit cycle phases, where oscillatory dynamics persist indefinitely. We also identify collective bistable phases, where the system supports two steady states among spatially uniform, antiferromagnetic, and limit cycle phases. We compare these mean-field results to exact quantum trajectories simulations for finite one-dimensional arrays. The exact results exhibit short-range antiferromagnetic order for parameters that have significant overlap with the mean-field phase diagram. In the mean-field bistable regime, the exact quantum dynamics exhibits real-time collective switching between macroscopically distinguishable states. We present a clear physical picture for this dynamics, and establish a simple relationship between the switching times and properties of the quantum Liouvillian.