Experimental signatures of an absorbing-state phase transition in an open driven many-body quantum system

Gutiérrez, Ricardo and Simonelli, Cristiano and Archimi, Matteo and Castellucci, Francesco and Arimondo, Ennio and Ciampini, Donatella and Marcuzzi, Matteo and Lesanovsky, Igor and Morsch, Oliver (2017) Experimental signatures of an absorbing-state phase transition in an open driven many-body quantum system. Physical Review A, 96 (4). 041602(R)/1-041602(R)/6. ISSN 2469-9934

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Abstract

Understanding and probing phase transitions in non-equilibrium systems is an ongoing challenge in physics. A particular instance are phase transitions that occur between a non-fluctuating absorbing phase, e.g., an extinct population, and one in which the relevant order parameter, such as the population density, assumes a finite value. Here we report the observation of signatures of such a non-equilibrium phase transition in an open driven quantum system. In our experiment rubidium atoms in a quasi one-dimensional cold disordered gas are laser-excited to Rydberg states under so-called facilitation conditions. This conditional excitation process competes with spontaneous decay and leads to a crossover between a stationary state with no excitations and one with a finite number of excitations. We relate the underlying physics to that of an absorbing state phase transition in the presence of a field (i.e. off-resonant excitation processes) which slightly offsets the system from criticality. We observe a characteristic power-law scaling of the Rydberg excitation density as well as increased fluctuations close to the transition point. Furthermore, we argue that the observed transition relies on the presence of atomic motion which introduces annealed disorder into the system and enables the formation of long-ranged correlations. Our study paves the road for future investigations into the largely unexplored physics of non-equilibrium phase transitions in open many-body quantum systems.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Experimental signatures of an absorbing-state phase transition in an open driven many-body quantum system. Ricardo Gutiérrez, Cristiano Simonelli, Matteo Archimi, Francesco Castellucci, Ennio Arimondo, Donatella Ciampini, Matteo Marcuzzi, Igor Lesanovsky, and Oliver Morsch, Phys. Rev. A 96, 041602(R).
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Science > School of Physics and Astronomy
Identification Number: 10.1103/PhysRevA.96.041602
Depositing User: Marcuzzi, Matteo
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2017 13:22
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2017 17:12
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/47683

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