Exotic photonic molecules via Lennard-Jones-like potentials

TitleExotic photonic molecules via Lennard-Jones-like potentials
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsBienias, P, Gullans, MJ, Kalinowski, M, Craddock, AN, Ornelas-Huerta, DP, Rolston, SL, Porto, JV, Gorshkov, AV
JournalPhys. Rev. Lett.
Date Published9/19/2020

Ultracold systems offer an unprecedented level of control of interactions between atoms. An important challenge is to achieve a similar level of control of the interactions between photons. Towards this goal, we propose a realization of a novel Lennard-Jones-like potential between photons coupled to the Rydberg states via electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT). This potential is achieved by tuning Rydberg states to a F{ö}rster resonance with other Rydberg states. We consider few-body problems in 1D and 2D geometries and show the existence of self-bound clusters ("molecules") of photons. We demonstrate that for a few-body problem, the multi-body interactions have a significant impact on the geometry of the molecular ground state. This leads to phenomena without counterparts in conventional systems: For example, three photons in 2D preferentially arrange themselves in a line-configuration rather than in an equilateral-triangle configuration. Our result opens a new avenue for studies of many-body phenomena with strongly interacting photons.