Nonlinear polariton fluids

Lorenzo Dominici
CNR NANOTEC, Institute of Nanotechnology

Polaritons are very interesting quasiparticles, that are generated in semiconductors as a hybrid mixture of light and the material’s optical excitation. They inherit a strong nonlinearity from the exciton component while keeping a high coherence as well as a nonparabolic dispersion from the photon counterpart. These features can activate, among other effects, Bose-Einstein condensation [1], nonlinear quantum fluid dynamics [2] and even quantum correlations [3]. In this talk we will show variegated nonlinear spatiotemporal reshaping phenomena in microcavity polaritons, where the whole fluid can be described by a collective wavefunction characterised by bistability regions, solitons and quantum vortices. We will also discuss the fundamental repulsive nonlinearity of exciton-polaritons, which can trigger the formation of two-dimensional X-waves [4], or ignite expanding shock waves and sustain stable dark soliton rings [5]. In particular, we will describe a novel effect of retarded nonlinearity inversion, that results in the dynamical formation of a bright soliton [5]. The simultaneous presence of the central density singularity and the radially-expanding cloud recall the exotic structures that are also seen in condensed matter bosonic supernovas. Finally, we will show how we can seed and track quantum vortices in the polariton fluid on the picosecond timescale. These quantum vortices are characterized by a central phase singularity surrounded by an azimuthally-winding cloud. The observations highlight a rich nonlinear phenomenology, such as the vortex spiralling, splitting, and the ordered branching into newly generated secondary couples [6]. These events remind of the particle pair generation effect. Remarkably, we also observe that vortices placed in close proximity experience attractive-repulsive scenarios. Such nonlinear vortex pair-interactions can be described by a tuneable effective potential [7], reminiscent of Lennard-Jones potential existing between molecules.

[1] Kasprzak et al., Nature 443, 409 (2006)

[2] Lerario et al., Nat. Phys. 13, 837 (2017)

[3] Delteil et al., Nat. Materials 18, 219 (2019)

[4] Gianfrate et al., Light Sci. Appl. 7, e17119 (2018)

[5] Dominici et al., Nat. Commun. 6, 8993 (2015)

[6] Dominici et al., Sci. Adv. 1, e1500807 (2015)

[7] Dominici et al., Nat. Commun. 9, 1467 (2018)