Sculpting oscillators with light within a nonlinear quantum fluid

G. Tosi, G. Christmann, N. G. Berloff, P. Tsotsis, T. Gao, Z. Hatzopoulos, P. G. Savvidis, J. J. Baumberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

178 Citations (Scopus)


Seeing macroscopic quantum states directly remains an elusive goal. Particles with boson symmetry can condense into quantum fluids, producing rich physical phenomena as well as proven potential for interferometric devices 1-10. However, direct imaging of such quantum states is only fleetingly possible in high-vacuum ultracold atomic condensates, and not in superconductors. Recent condensation of solid-state polariton quasiparticles, built from mixing semiconductor excitons with microcavity photons, offers monolithic devices capable of supporting room-temperature quantum states 11-14 that exhibit superfluid behaviour 15,16. Here we use microcavities on a semiconductor chip supporting two-dimensional polariton condensates to directly visualize the formation of a spontaneously oscillating quantum fluid. This system is created on the fly by injecting polaritons at two or more spatially separated pump spots. Although oscillating at tunable THz frequencies, a simple optical microscope can be used to directly image their stable archetypal quantum oscillator wavefunctions in real space. The self-repulsion of polaritons provides a solid-state quasiparticle that is so nonlinear as to modify its own potential. Interference in time and space reveals the condensate wavepackets arise from non-equilibrium solitons. Control of such polariton-condensate wavepackets demonstrates great potential for integrated semiconductor-based condensate devices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-194
Number of pages5
JournalNature Physics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


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