Optical Physics

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.

Information for Prospective Optical Physics Students

To view past updates, see the Research Updates Archive.


Optical Physics Research Updates

1) Rotating Black Hold Geometries in a Two-Dimensional Photon Superfluid

Date Published: April 29, 2019

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. Read more.

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Initial flow and sound wave velocities calculated for a photon fluid in two samples.

2) Observation of Photon Droplets and Their Dynamics

Date Published: April 29, 2019

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.

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A pseudoenergy landscape and square images showing the transverse intensity profile and nonlinear potential for the ground state

3) Theoretical Investigations of Polaritonic Quantum Fluids

Date Published: October 13, 2017

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)

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Simple patterns, such as stripes, can be created from instabilities that involve linear momentum states of waves.

4) Theoretical Optical Physics Group

Date Published: September 21, 2017

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.

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Snapshots of the transverse intensity profile of a light beam propagating in a photon fluid for different propagation distances. The dynamics is governed by a single component nonlinear Schrodinger equation with a third-order nonlinearity. The input beam is an optical vortex beam, and this causes a rotation of the excitation axis. The resulting cyclotron motion can be interpreted as due to an artificial magnetic field acting on the photon fluid.

5) Theoretical Solid-State Optics Group

Date Published: November 24, 2014

The Theoretical Solid-State Optics Group led by Rolf Binder focuses on the optical properties of semiconductor structures. Using microscopic quantum-mechanical many-body theories, including nonequilibrium Green's functions, the group pursues projects ranging from basic physical studies to application-oriented simulations. Recent and ongoing examples include slow- and fast-light effects in bulk semiconductors and semiconductor heterostructures, optical refrigeration of semiconductors, optical and elastic properties of semiconductor nanomembranes, optical properties of graphene, and pattern formation and control in quantum fluids realized by exciton polaritons in semiconductor microcavities.

Optically pumped semiconductor microcavities exhibiting near-field and far-field patterns in the polariton quantum fluid.

Optically pumped semiconductor microcavities exhibiting near-field and far-field patterns in the polariton quantum fluid.

Optical Physics Faculty

Brian P. Anderson

Associate Dean, Graduate Academic Affairs Professor of Optical Sciences

Poul Jessen

Chair of Quantum Information and Control Professor of Optical Sciences

R. Jason Jones

John Paul Schaefer Endowed Chair in Optical Sciences Professor of Optical Sciences

Masud Mansuripur

Chair of Optical Data Storage Professor of Optical Sciences

Jerome Moloney

Professor of Optical Sciences

Dalziel Wilson

Assistant Professor of Optical Sciences