Exploring Vortex Matter: Creating Vortices in a Quantum Photonic System

A team of physicists from RIKEN has made a significant breakthrough in the study of vortex matter by creating multiple vortices in a quantum photonic system using a specially crafted laser beam stirrer. Their research, published in the journal Nano Letters, opens up new possibilities for understanding the emergence of quantum states from vortex matter.

In normal fluids, such as water, stirring typically results in a single big vortex. However, superfluids behave differently. When you rotate a superfluid, you initially create one vortex. As the rotation speed increases, more and more vortices of the same size form. This phenomenon is not only observed in liquid helium and atomic systems but also in systems composed of polaritons.

Polaritons are particle-like entities that arise when a photon of light strongly interacts with a negative electron bound to a positive hole in a semiconductor. Stirring polariton systems presents a challenge due to the high frequencies required. The RIKEN physicists overcame this challenge by using a laser beam with a unique donut-like shape and a slightly different frequency than a regular laser beam. By controlling the speed and direction of rotation, they were able to create multiple vortices at will.

The team’s experimental measurements matched well with simulations based on theory, confirming the success of their rotation scheme. This breakthrough allows for the study of self-ordering vortex dynamics in an open-dissipative platform. It also opens up opportunities to explore highly quantum, topological phases of light.

With this advancement, researchers can delve deeper into the physics of vortices and further investigate the unique properties of superfluids. The study of quantum states arising from vortex matter has the potential to uncover fascinating new insights into exotic physics.


  • What is a superfluid? – A superfluid is a fluid that has zero viscosity and exhibits unique quantum mechanical properties at low temperatures.
  • What are vortices in a superfluid? – Vortices in a superfluid are regions of swirling flow where the fluid rotates around an axis.
  • How are vortices created in polariton systems? – Polariton systems can be stirred using specially crafted laser beams that induce rotation, resulting in the formation of vortices.
  • Why is studying vortex dynamics important? – Understanding vortex dynamics in different systems can provide valuable insights into the behavior of quantum states and the emergence of exotic phenomena.
  • What are topological phases of light? – Topological phases of light refer to unique states of light that are characterized by their topological properties rather than their traditional geometric properties.

Source: phys.org