Variable potentials for thermalized light and coupled condensates

David Dung*, Christian Kurtscheid, Tobias Damm, Julian Schmitt, Frank Vewinger, Martin Weitz, Jan Klaers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Quantum gases in lattice potentials have been a powerful platform to simulate phenomena from solid-state physics, such as the Mott insulator transition. In contrast to ultracold atoms, photon-based platforms, such as photonic crystals, coupled waveguides or lasers, usually do not operate in thermal equilibrium. Advances towards photonic simulators of solid-state equilibrium effects include polariton lattice experiments, and the demonstration of a photon condensate. Here, we demonstrate a technique to create variable micropotentials for light using thermo-optic imprinting of a dye-polymer solution within an ultrahigh-finesse microcavity. We study the properties of single-and double-well potentials, and find the quality of structuring sufficient for thermalization and Bose-Einstein condensation of light. The investigation of effective photon-photon interactions along with the observed tunnel coupling between sites makes the system a promising candidate to directly populate entangled photonic many-body states. The demonstrated scalability suggests that thermo-optic imprinting provides a new approach for variable microstructuring in photonics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-569
Number of pages5
JournalNature photonics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017
Externally publishedYes


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