Structural phase transitions in cold atoms mediated by optical feedback

Baio, Giuseppe and Robb, Gordon R.M. and Yao, Alison M. and Oppo, Gian Luca and Ackemann, Thorsten; (2021) Structural phase transitions in cold atoms mediated by optical feedback. In: 2021 Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics Europe & European Quantum Electronics Conference (CLEO/Europe-EQEC). IEEE, DEU. ISBN 9781665418768 (

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Self-structuring via symmetry breaking is a prominent collective phenomenon occurring in cold and ultracold atoms coupled to optical fields [1] . Experimental realizations by means of trapped dipolar gases and optical cavities have shed light onto supersolidity and crystallization in out-of-equilibrium atomic systems [2] , [3] . Recent work demonstrated the occurrence of structural phase transitions between hexagonally coordinated supersolid phases in dipolar condensates [4] . In this work, we address 2D structural transitions occurring in an ensemble of cold thermal atoms with effective optomechanical interactions mediated by a coherent beam retro-reflected by means of a feedback mirror. The feedback loop scheme is represented in Fig. 1(a) , where the dipole potential induces atomic density structures which, in turn, scatter photons into side-band modes enhancing the potential itself and leading to transverse light-atom self-structuring, sharing similarities with an effective-Kerr nonlinear medium [5] .