Signatures of a dissipative phase transition in photon correlation measurements

Thomas Fink, Anne Schade, Sven Höfling, Christian Schneider, Ataç Imamoglu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding and characterizing phase transitions in driven-dissipative systems constitutes a new frontier for many-body physics[1-8]. A generic feature of dissipative phase transitions is a vanishing gap in the Liouvillian spectrum [9], which leads to long-lived deviations from the steady state as the system is driven towards the transition. Here, we show that photon correlation measurements can be used to characterize the corresponding critical slowing down of non-equilibrium dynamics. We focus on the extensively studied phenomenon of optical bistability in GaAs cavity polaritons [10,11], which can be described as a first-order dissipative phase transition [12-14]. Increasing the excitation strength towards the bistable range results in an increasing photon-bunching signal along with a decay time that is prolonged by more than nine orders of magnitude as compared with that of single polaritons. In the limit of strong polariton interactions leading to pronounced quantum fluctuations, the mean-field bistability threshold is washed out. Nevertheless, the functional form with which the Liouvillian gap closes as the thermodynamic limit is approached provides a signature of the emerging dissipative phase transition. Our results establish photon correlation measurements as an invaluable tool for studying dynamical properties of dissipative phase transitions without requiring phase-sensitive interferometric measurements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-369
Number of pages5
JournalNature Physics
Issue number4
Early online date11 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


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