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Bose–Einstein condensation of exciton polaritons

Nature volume 443, pages 409414 (28 September 2006) | Download Citation



Phase transitions to quantum condensed phases—such as Bose–Einstein condensation (BEC), superfluidity, and superconductivity—have long fascinated scientists, as they bring pure quantum effects to a macroscopic scale. BEC has, for example, famously been demonstrated in dilute atom gas of rubidium atoms at temperatures below 200 nanokelvin. Much effort has been devoted to finding a solid-state system in which BEC can take place. Promising candidate systems are semiconductor microcavities, in which photons are confined and strongly coupled to electronic excitations, leading to the creation of exciton polaritons. These bosonic quasi-particles are 109 times lighter than rubidium atoms, thus theoretically permitting BEC to occur at standard cryogenic temperatures. Here we detail a comprehensive set of experiments giving compelling evidence for BEC of polaritons. Above a critical density, we observe massive occupation of the ground state developing from a polariton gas at thermal equilibrium at 19 K, an increase of temporal coherence, and the build-up of long-range spatial coherence and linear polarization, all of which indicate the spontaneous onset of a macroscopic quantum phase.

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This work is dedicated to R. Romestain. We acknowledge support by the European Union Network “Photon-mediated phenomena in semiconductor nanostructures” and from the Swiss National Research Foundation through the “Quantum Photonics NCCR”. We thank J.-P. Poizat, D. Sarchi and O. El Daïf for many discussions. Author Contributions J.K., M.R., S.K. and A.B. contributed equally to this work: J.K. worked on ‘Thermalization and condensation’ and ‘Linear polarization build-up’; M.R., S.K. and A.B. worked on the ‘Long-range spatial coherence’. J.M.J.K., F.M.M. and M.H.S. performed theoretical modelling of the data and prepared the Supplementary Information.

Author information


  1. CEA-CNRS-UJF joint group ‘Nanophysique et Semiconducteurs’, Laboratoire de Spectrométrie Physique (CNRS UMR5588), Université J. Fourier-Grenoble, F-38402 Saint Martin d'Hères cedex, France

    • J. Kasprzak
    • , R. André
    •  & Le Si Dang
  2. Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Station 3, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland

    • M. Richard
    • , S. Kundermann
    • , A. Baas
    • , P. Jeambrun
    • , J. L. Staehli
    • , V. Savona
    •  & B. Deveaud
  3. MIT, Department of Physics, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139-4307, USA

    • J. M. J. Keeling
  4. Cavendish Laboratory, Department of Physics, University of Cambridge, J. J. Thomson Avenue, Cambridge CB3 0HE, UK

    • F. M. Marchetti
    •  & P. B. Littlewood
  5. Clarendon Laboratory, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PU, UK

    • M. H. Szymańska


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Reprints and permissions information is available at The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to J. Kasprzak or B. Deveaud.

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    Supplementary Notes

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