We study theoretically and experimentally the competing blockade and antiblockade effects induced by spontaneously generated contaminant Rydberg atoms in driven Rydberg systems. These contaminant atoms provide a source of strong dipole-dipole interactions and play a crucial role in the system's behavior. We study this problem theoretically using two different approaches. The first is a cumulant expansion approximation, in which we ignore third-order and higher connected correlations. Using this approach for the case of resonant drive, a many-body blockade radius picture arises, and we find qualitative agreement with previous experimental results. We further predict that as the atomic density is increased, the Rydberg population's dependence on Rabi frequency will transition from quadratic to linear dependence at lower Rabi frequencies. We study this behavior experimentally by observing this crossover at two different atomic densities. We confirm that the larger density system has a smaller crossover Rabi frequency than the smaller density system. The second theoretical approach is a set of phenomenological inhomogeneous rate equations. We compare the results of our rate-equation model to the experimental observations [E. A. Goldschmidt *et al.*, Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, 113001 (2016)] and find that these rate equations provide quantitatively good scaling behavior of the steady-state Rydberg population for both resonant and off-resonant drives.

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.

%B Physical Review A %V 95 %P 043826 %8 2017/04/17 %G eng %U https://journals.aps.org/pra/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevA.95.043826 %R doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevA.95.043826 %0 Journal Article %J Physical Review A %D 2016 %T Collective phases of strongly interacting cavity photons %A Ryan M. Wilson %A Khan W. Mahmud %A Anzi Hu %A Alexey V. Gorshkov %A Mohammad Hafezi %A Michael Foss-Feig %XWe study a coupled array of coherently driven photonic cavities, which maps onto a driven-dissipative XY spin-12 model with ferromagnetic couplings in the limit of strong optical nonlinearities. Using a site-decoupled mean-field approximation, we identify steady state phases with canted antiferromagnetic order, in addition to limit cycle phases, where oscillatory dynamics persist indefinitely. We also identify collective bistable phases, where the system supports two steady states among spatially uniform, antiferromagnetic, and limit cycle phases. We compare these mean-field results to exact quantum trajectories simulations for finite one-dimensional arrays. The exact results exhibit short-range antiferromagnetic order for parameters that have significant overlap with the mean-field phase diagram. In the mean-field bistable regime, the exact quantum dynamics exhibits real-time collective switching between macroscopically distinguishable states. We present a clear physical picture for this dynamics, and establish a simple relationship between the switching times and properties of the quantum Liouvillian.

%B Physical Review A %V 94 %P 033801 %8 2016/09/01 %G eng %U http://arxiv.org/abs/1601.06857 %N 3 %R http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevA.94.033801