Superradiance and the Dicke model

Statistical Physics and Complexity Group meeting

Superradiance and the Dicke model

  • Event time: 11:30am
  • Event date: 30th April 2014
  • Speaker: Jonathan Keeling (St. Andrews)
  • Location: Room 2511,

Event details

Quantum optics often focuses on the interaction between a small number of optical emitters and absorbers, and a small number of light modes. However it has long been known that "more is different", and that emission from a collection of optical emitters is not just the sum of its parts. The study of this behaviour started with the work of Dicke, in a paper published 60 years ago this year. He showed how the presence of other optical emitters can increase the rate at which each emits; i.e. there is collective enhancement, termed "superradiance".

Following this work, there have been various theoretical discussions of the statistical mechanics of systems of coupled emitters and light, and the possibility of a "superradiant phase". Only very recently has this been experimentally achieved, in a system of cold atoms in an optical cavity. I will discuss the idea of superradiance and superradiant phases, and some of the history of why the existence of this phase has been in doubt, and will end with some discussion of the recent experimental realisations.