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Exciton–polariton condensates

An Erratum to this article was published on 28 November 2014

This article has been updated


Recently a new type of system exhibiting spontaneous coherence has emerged—the exciton–polariton condensate. Exciton–polaritons (or polaritons for short) are bosonic quasiparticles that exist inside semiconductor microcavities, consisting of a superposition of an exciton and a cavity photon. Above a threshold density the polaritons macroscopically occupy the same quantum state, forming a condensate. The polaritons have a lifetime that is typically comparable to or shorter than thermalization times, giving them an inherently non-equilibrium nature. Nevertheless, they exhibit many of the features that would be expected of equilibrium Bose–Einstein condensates (BECs). The non-equilibrium nature of the system raises fundamental questions as to what it means for a system to be a BEC, and introduces new physics beyond that seen in other macroscopically coherent systems. In this review we focus on several physical phenomena exhibited by exciton–polariton condensates. In particular, we examine topics such as the difference between a polariton BEC, a polariton laser and a photon laser, as well as physical phenomena such as superfluidity, vortex formation, and Berezinskii–Kosterlitz–Thouless and Bardeen–Cooper–Schrieffer physics. We also discuss the physics and applications of engineered polariton structures.

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Figure 1: Exciton–polariton condensation.
Figure 2: Differences between a laser and a polariton BEC.
Figure 3: Superfluidity in exciton–polariton condensates.
Figure 4: Vortices and solitons in exciton–polariton superfluids.
Figure 5: Methods of creating trapping potentials for exciton–polariton condensates.

Change history

  • 13 November 2014

    In the version of this Review Article originally published, the sources of two images in Fig. 5a were incorrect. The first and second images from the left in Fig. 5a were taken from ref. 114 and ref. 99, respectively. This error has now been corrected in the online versions of the Review Article.


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We thank B. Devaud-Plédran for providing valuable comments on the manuscript. This work is supported by the FIRST program through JSPS, the Okawa Foundation, the Transdisciplinary Research Integration Center, and DARPA QuEST program through Navy/SPAWAR Grant N66001-09-1-2024, the Inamori Foundation, NTT Basic Laboratories and JSPS Kakenhi Grant Number 26790061.

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T.B. and N.Y.K. wrote the manuscript. Y.Y. oversaw the work.

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Correspondence to Tim Byrnes.

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Byrnes, T., Kim, N. & Yamamoto, Y. Exciton–polariton condensates. Nature Phys 10, 803–813 (2014).

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