Colloquium: Ariel Sommer

    Friday, January 13, 2017 - 3:00pm
    Dept. of Physics - Room PAS 220

    1118 E. 4th St.


    Building Materials from Light: Photonic Landau Levels and Rydberg-mediated Interactions


    Advances in the control of light propagation and photon-photon interactions have lead to a new notion of photonic materials -- states of light that resemble material systems. I will describe our experimental approach to photonic materials, in which we use a degenerate non-planar optical resonator to realize a two-dimensional photon gas with an effective magnetic field. We observe photonic Landau levels, indicating a strong effective magnetic field, and a singularity of spatial curvature arising from the effectively conical geometry of our photon gas. Spatial curvature provides a novel probe of quantum Hall states, allowing us to make the first experimental measurement of the mean orbital spin, which characterizes topological phases. To realize photon-photon interactions, we demonstrate hybridization of photons in an optical resonator with atomic Rydberg excitations. We measure the energy, lifetime, and interaction shift of the resulting Rydberg polariton states. Future work will aim to realize strongly correlated photonic fractional quantum Hall states by combining strong effective gauge fields with photon-photon interactions.

    Speaker Bio(s): 

    Dr. Ariel Sommer received his PhD in Physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his B.S. in Physics from Stanford University.  His PhD and postdoctoral work was in experimental atomic, molecular, and optical physics at MIT and the University of Chicago.