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Hydrodynamic nucleation of quantized vortex pairs in a polariton quantum fluid

Abstract

Quantized vortices appear in quantum gases at the breakdown of superfluidity. In liquid helium and cold atomic gases, they have been indentified as the quantum counterpart of turbulence in classical fluids. In the solid state, composite light–matter bosons known as exciton polaritons have enabled studies of non-equilibrium quantum gases and superfluidity. However, there has been no experimental evidence of hydrodynamic nucleation of polariton vortices so far. Here we report the experimental study of a polariton fluid flowing past an obstacle and the observation of nucleation of quantized vortex pairs in the wake of the obstacle. We image the nucleation mechanism and track the motion of the vortices along the flow. The nucleation conditions are established in terms of local fluid density and velocity measured on the obstacle perimeter. The experimental results are successfully reproduced by numerical simulations based on the resolution of the Gross–Pitaevskii equation.

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Figure 1: Experimental scheme.
Figure 2: Population dynamics.
Figure 3: Vortex dynamics.
Figure 4: Nucleation conditions in experiments.
Figure 5: Nucleation criterion: numerical evidence.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank M. Wouters and T. C. H Liew for enlightening discussions. We acknowledge support by the Swiss National Science Foundation through the ‘NCCR Quantum Photonics’.

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Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

G.N. and G.G performed the experiments. Y.L. performed the numerical simulations. F.M-G. grew the sample. G.N, Y.L and B.P. wrote the paper. B.D-P. supervised the project. All authors contributed to numerous discussions and data analysis.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gaël Nardin.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Nardin, G., Grosso, G., Léger, Y. et al. Hydrodynamic nucleation of quantized vortex pairs in a polariton quantum fluid. Nature Phys 7, 635–641 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphys1959

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