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Observation of Dicke cooperativity in magnetic interactions

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Science  24 Aug 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6404, pp. 794-797
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat5162

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Cooperative quantum magnetism

One of the earliest and most intensively studied problems in quantum optics is the interaction of a two-level system (an atom) with a single photon. This simple system provides a rich platform for exploring exotic light-matter interactions and the emergence of more complex phenomena such as superradiance, which is a cooperative effect that emerges when the density of atoms is increased and coupling between them is enhanced. Going beyond the light-matter system, Li et al. observed analogous cooperative effects for coupled magnetic systems. The results suggest that ideas in quantum optics could be carried over and used to control and predict exotic phases in condensed matter systems.

Science, this issue p. 794

Abstract

The interaction of N two-level atoms with a single-mode light field is an extensively studied many-body problem in quantum optics, first analyzed by Dicke in the context of superradiance. A characteristic of such systems is the cooperative enhancement of the coupling strength by a factor of N. In this study, we extended this cooperatively enhanced coupling to a solid-state system, demonstrating that it also occurs in a magnetic solid in the form of matter-matter interaction. Specifically, the exchange interaction of N paramagnetic erbium(III) (Er3+) spins with an iron(III) (Fe3+) magnon field in erbium orthoferrite (ErFeO3) exhibits a vacuum Rabi splitting whose magnitude is proportional to N. Our results provide a route for understanding, controlling, and predicting novel phases of condensed matter using concepts and tools available in quantum optics.

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