Emergent equilibrium in many-body optical bistability

TitleEmergent equilibrium in many-body optical bistability
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsFoss-Feig, M, Niroula, P, Young, JT, Hafezi, M, Gorshkov, AV, Wilson, RM, Maghrebi, MF
JournalPhysical Review A
Date Published2017/04/17

Many-body systems constructed of quantum-optical building blocks can now be realized in experimental platforms ranging from exciton-polariton fluids to ultracold gases of Rydberg atoms, establishing a fascinating interface between traditional many-body physics and the driven-dissipative, non-equilibrium setting of cavity-QED. At this interface, the standard techniques and intuitions of both fields are called into question, obscuring issues as fundamental as the role of fluctuations, dimensionality, and symmetry on the nature of collective behavior and phase transitions. Here, we study the driven-dissipative Bose-Hubbard model, a minimal description of numerous atomic, optical, and solid-state systems in which particle loss is countered by coherent driving. Despite being a lattice version of optical bistability---a foundational and patently non-equilibrium model of cavity-QED---the steady state possesses an emergent equilibrium description in terms of a classical Ising model. We establish this picture by identifying a limit in which the quantum dynamics is asymptotically equivalent to non-equilibrium Langevin equations, which support a phase transition described by model A of the Hohenberg-Halperin classification. Numerical simulations of the Langevin equations corroborate this picture, producing results consistent with the behavior of a finite-temperature Ising model.