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Anderson Localization of Light by Cold Atoms

Project description

Tidying up our descriptions of light propagation in disordered media

A landmark paper in 1958 described a phenomenon now known as Anderson localisation, which is the absence of diffusion of waves in certain disordered media. The original paper addressed how electrons in a disordered crystal lattice get localised through interference of scattering effects, a phenomenon related to the wave nature of electrons. This results in a transition between an insulator and a conductor. Descriptions have since been extended to other wave systems including acoustics, electromagnetics and quantum matter systems and are fundamental to the characterisation of condensed matter and disordered systems. The EU-funded ANDLICA project is enhancing our understanding of Anderson localisation of light using large clouds of cold atoms, with implications for a next generation of quantum devices.


I propose to use large clouds of cold Ytterbium atoms to observe Anderson localization of light in three dimensions, which has challenged theoreticians and experimentalists for many decades.
After the prediction by Anderson of a disorder-induced conductor to insulator transition for electrons, light has been proposed as ideal non interacting waves to explore coherent transport properties in the absence of interactions. The development in experiments and theory over the past several years have shown a route towards the experimental realization of this phase transition.
Previous studies on Anderson localization of light using semiconductor powders or dielectric particles have shown that intrinsic material properties, such as absorption or inelastic scattering of light, need to be taken into account in the interpretation of experimental signatures of Anderson localization. Laser-cooled clouds of atoms avoid the problems of samples used so far to study Anderson localization of light. Ab initio theoretical models, available for cold Ytterbium atoms, have shown that the mere high spatial density of the scattering sample is not sufficient to allow for Anderson localization of photons in three dimensions, but that an additional magnetic field or additional disorder on the level shifts can induce a phase transition in three dimensions.
The role of disorder in atom-light interactions has important consequences for the next generation of high precision atomic clocks and quantum memories. By connecting the mesoscopic physics approach to quantum optics and cooperative scattering, this project will allow better control of cold atoms as building blocks of future quantum technologies. Time-resolved transport experiments will connect super- and subradiant assisted transmission with the extended and localized eigenstates of the system.
Having pioneered studies on weak localization and cooperative scattering enables me to diagnostic strong localization of light by cold atoms.



Net EU contribution
€ 2 490 717,00
Rue michel ange 3
75794 Paris

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Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Research Organisations
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)