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Collective radiative dynamics of an ensemble of cold atoms coupled to an optical waveguide
preprintposted on 2023-01-12, 13:55 authored by Riccardo Pennetta, Martin Blaha, Aisling Johnson, Daniel Lechner, Philipp Schneeweiss, Jürgen Volz, Arno Rauschenbeutel
We experimentally and theoretically investigate collective radiative effects in an ensemble of cold atoms coupled to a single-mode optical nanofiber. Our analysis unveils the microscopic dynamics of the system, showing that collective interactions between the atoms and a single guided photon gradually build-up along the atomic array in the direction of propagation of light. These results are supported by time-resolved measurements of the light transmitted and reflected by the ensemble after excitation via nanofiber-guided laser pulses, whose rise and fall times are shorter than the atomic lifetime. Superradiant decays more than one order of magnitude faster than the single-atom free-space decay rate are observed for emission in the forward-propagating guided mode, while at the same time no speed-up of the decay rate are measured in the backward direction. In addition, position-resolved measurements of the light that is transmitted past the atoms are performed by inserting the nanofiber-coupled atomic array in a 45-m long fiber ring-resonator, which allow us to experimentally reveal the progressive growth of the collective response of the atomic ensemble. Our results highlight the unique opportunities offered by nanophotonic cold atom systems for the experimental investigation of collective light-matter interaction.