D. E. Chang, V. Gritsev, G. Morigi, V. Vuletic, M. D. Lukin, and E. Demler, Crystallization of Strongly Interacting Photons in a Nonlinear Optical Fibre
, Nature Physics 4, 884-889 (2008).
Understanding strongly correlated quantum systems is a central problem in many areas of physics. The collective behavior of interacting particles gives rise to diverse fundamental phenomena such as confinement in quantum chromodynamics, phase transitions, and electron fractionalization in the quantum Hall regime. While such systems typically involve massive particles, optical photons can also interact with each other in a nonlinear medium. In practice, however, such interactions are often very weak. Here we described a novel technique that allows the creation of a strongly correlated quantum gas of photons using one-dimensional optical systems with tight field confinement and coherent photon trapping techniques. The confinement enables the generation of large, tunable optical nonlinearities via the interaction of photons with a nearby cold atomic gas. In its extreme, we show that a quantum light field can undergo fermionization in such one-dimensional media, which can be probed via standard photon correlation measurements.