Optical physics studies the interactions of light with atoms, molecules and semiconductor systems in different contexts. At the Wyant College of Optical Sciences, nine different research groups pursue projects in quantum gases, quantum information, theoretical and computational optical physics, experimental and theoretical semiconductor quantum optics, and ultrafast lasers, with impacts to the theory and applications of high-harmonic generation, laser cooling and trapping, quantum control, and much more.
1) All-optical sub-Kelvin sympathetic cooling of a levitated microsphere in vacuum
Ewan Wright's work on the paper "All-optical sub-Kelvin sympathetic cooling of a levitated microsphere in vacuum," published by Optica, with research partners Arita, Bruce, Simpson, Zemánek, and Dholakia has garnered media attention from Phys.org and Mirage News. According to the paper's abstract, "We demonstrate all-optical sympathetic cooling of a laser-trapped microsphere to sub-Kelvin temperatures, mediated by optical binding to a feedback-cooled adjacent particle. Our study opens prospects for multi-particle quantum entanglement and sensing in levitated optomechanics.
2) Rotating Black Hold Geometries in a Two-Dimensional Photon Superfluid
The research group of Ewan Wright has recently found applications in the simulation of a variety of physical phenomena such as superfluidity, vortex instabilities, and artificial gauge theories. This research presents the new opportunity for a room-temperature photon superfluid which can mimic the geometry of a rotating acoustic black hole. This allows the researchers to measure the local flow velocity and speed of waves in the photo superfluid.
3) Observation of Photon Droplets and Their Dynamics
The Wright research group presents experimental evidence of photon droplets in an attractive (focusing) nonlocal nonlinear medium. Photon droplets are self-bound, finite-sized states of light that are robust to size and shape perturbations due to a balance of competing attractive and repulsive forces. Theoretically the self-bound state arises due to competition between the s-wave and d-wave nolinear terms, along with diffraction. This research presents numerics and experiments supporting the existence of photon droplet states and measurements of the dynamical evolution of the photon droplet orbital angular momentum.
4) Theoretical Investigations of Polaritonic Quantum Fluids
Simple patterns, such as stripes, can be created from instabilities that involve linear momentum states of waves. The group of Professor Rolf Binder recently asked the question whether similar instabilities and patterns involving orbital angular (instead of linear) momentum states are possible. They performed theoretical investigations of polaritonic quantum fluids. Details about their findings are in Phys. Rev. Lett. 119, 113903 (2017).
5) Theoretical Optical Physics Group
The Theoretical Optical Physics Group headed by Ewan M. Wright conducts research across a broad area including ultrashort nonlinear pulse propagation in transparent media, Vertical External Cavity Semiconductor Lasers (VECSELs), nonlinear optics of photon fluids, and optical binding of particles. In each case the goal is to develop the underlying theory for each area in tandem with the simulation capability for existing or potential experiments.