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Optical precursors in waveguide quantum electrodynamics
preprintposted on 2023-01-12, 15:11 authored by Silvia Cardenas-Lopez, Pablo Solano, Luis A. Orozco, Ana Asenjo-Garcia
When a broadband signal propagates through a dispersive medium, some frequency components move faster than the center of the pulse. This leads to the appearance of precursors, transient signals that emerge from the medium earlier than the main part of the pulse and seem to propagate superluminally. Here, we investigate the microscopic origin of precursors in a minimal setup: an array of qubits coupled to a waveguide. The linear transmission function only converges to that of a continuous medium for large qubit numbers. Nevertheless, the dispersion produced by only two qubits is enough to produce oscillatory transients. Precursors are best observed under conditions of electromagnetically-induced transparency, as the center of the pulse is significantly delayed. Under these conditions, just a single qutrit is enough to generate a precursor. Our results pave the way towards dispersion engineering of light with just a few qubits, and can be realized with superconducting qubits coupled to transmission lines or atoms coupled to optical waveguides.