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Persistent currents and quantized vortices in a polariton superfluid


After the discovery of zero viscosity in liquid helium, other fundamental properties of the superfluidity phenomenon have been revealed. One of them, irrotational flow, gives rise to quantized vortices and persistent currents. Those are the landmarks of superfluidity in its modern understanding. Recently, a new variety of dissipationless fluid behaviour has been found in microcavities under the optical parametric regime. Here we report the observation of metastable persistent polariton superflows sustaining a quantized angular momentum, m, after applying a 2-ps laser pulse carrying a vortex state. We observe a transfer of angular momentum to the steady-state condensate, which sustains vorticity for as long as it can be tracked. Furthermore, we study the stability of quantized vortices with m=2. The experiments are analysed using a generalized two-component Gross–Pitaevskii equation. These results demonstrate the control of metastable persistent currents and show the peculiar superfluid character of non-equilibrium polariton condensates.

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Figure 1: Polariton dispersion, probe beam and its interference.
Figure 2: Experimental dynamics of a single vortex.
Figure 3: Theoretical dynamics of a single vortex.
Figure 4: Experimental dynamics of a doubly quantized vortex.
Figure 5: Theoretical dynamics of a doubly quantized vortex.


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We are grateful to D. Whittaker, J. J. García-Ripoll, P. B. Littlewood and J. Keeling for stimulating discussions. This work was partially supported by the Spanish MEC (MAT2008-01555 and QOIT-CSD2006-00019), the CAM (S2009/ESP-1503), FP7 ITNs ‘Clermont4’ (235114) and ‘Spin-Optronics’ (237252). D.S. and F.M.M. acknowledge financial support from the Ramón y Cajal programme. G.T. is grateful for the FPI scholarship from the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación. We thank the TCM group (Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, UK) for the use of computer resources.

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Authors and Affiliations



D.S., G.T. and M.B. carried out the experiments. F.M.M. and M.H.S. carried out the theoretical analysis. L.M. provided the holograms for getting vortex excitation and A.L. and J.B. fabricated the samples. All of the authors analysed the results, discussed the underlying physics and contributed to the manuscript.

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Correspondence to D. Sanvitto or F. M. Marchetti.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Sanvitto, D., Marchetti, F., Szymańska, M. et al. Persistent currents and quantized vortices in a polariton superfluid. Nature Phys 6, 527–533 (2010).

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