Coherent zero-state and π-state in an exciton-polariton condensate array

Physics – Condensed Matter – Superconductivity

Scientific paper

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Scientific paper

The effect of quantum statistics in quantum gases and liquids results in observable collective properties among many-particle systems. One prime example is Bose-Einstein condensation, whose onset in a quantum liquid leads to phenomena such as superfluidity and superconductivity. A Bose-Einstein condensate is generally defined as a macroscopic occupation of a single-particle quantum state, a phenomenon technically referred to as off-diagonal long-range order due to non-vanishing off-diagonal components of the single-particle density matrix. The wavefunction of the condensate is an order parameter whose phase is essential in characterizing the coherence and superfluid phenomena. The long-range spatial coherence leads to the existence of phase-locked multiple condensates in an array of superfluid helium, superconducting Josephson junctions or atomic Bose-Einstein condensates. Under certain circumstances, a quantum phase difference of π is predicted to develop among weakly coupled Josephson junctions. Such a meta-stable π-state was discovered in a weak link of superfluid 3He, which is characterized by a `p-wave' order parameter. The possible existence of such a π-state in weakly coupled atomic Bose-Einstein condensates has also been proposed, but remains undiscovered. Here we report the observation of spontaneous build-up of in-phase (`zero-state') and antiphase (`π-state') `superfluid' states in a solid-state system; an array of exciton-polariton condensates connected by weak periodic potential barriers within a semiconductor microcavity. These in-phase and antiphase states reflect the band structure of the one-dimensional polariton array and the dynamic characteristics of metastable exciton-polariton condensates.

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