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Self-synchronization and dissipation-induced threshold in collective atomic recoil lasing

von Cube, C. and Kruse, D. and Zimmermann, C. and Courteille, P.W. and Robb, G.R.M. and Piovella, N. and Bonifacio, R. (2004) Self-synchronization and dissipation-induced threshold in collective atomic recoil lasing. Physical Review Letters, 93 (8). 083601-1. ISSN 0031-9007

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Networks of globally coupled oscillators exhibit phase transitions from incoherent to coherent states. Atoms interacting with the counterpropagating modes of a unidirectionally pumped high-finesse ring cavity form such a globally coupled network. The coupling mechanism is provided by collective atomic recoil lasing, i.e., cooperative Bragg scattering of laser light at an atomic density grating, which is self-induced by the laser light. Under the rule of an additional friction force, the atomic ensemble is expected to undergo a phase transition to a state of synchronized atomic motion. We present the experimental investigation of this phase transition by studying the threshold behavior of this lasing process.