Coherence buildup and laser thresholds from nanolasers to macroscopic lasers

Carroll, Mark Anthony and D'Alessandro, Giampaolo and Lippi, Gian Luca and Oppo, Gian-Luca and Papoff, Francesco (2023) Coherence buildup and laser thresholds from nanolasers to macroscopic lasers. Physical Review A, 107 (6). 063710. ISSN 1050-2947 (

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We detail the derivation of nanolaser models that include coherent and incoherent variables and predict the existence of a laser threshold, irrespective of cavity size and emitter number, for both single- and multielectron systems. The growth in photon number in the lasing mode is driven by an increase in correlation between absorption and emission processes, leading to the onset of self-sustained stimulated emission (laser threshold), followed in turn by a correlation decrease and ending with the dominance of coherent emission. The first-order coherence g(1) steadily increases, as the pump grows towards the laser threshold value, and reaches unity at or beyond threshold. The transition toward coherent emission becomes increasingly sharp as the numbers of emitters and coupled electromagnetic cavity modes increase, continuously connecting, in the thermodynamic limit, the physics of nano- and macroscopic lasers at threshold. Our predictions are in remarkable agreement with experiments whose first-order coherence measurements have so far been explained only phenomenologically. A consistent evaluation of different threshold indicators provides a tool for a correct interpretation of experimental measurements at the onset of laser action.