Experimental characterization of nonlocal photon fluids

David Vocke, Thomas Roger, Francesco Marino, Ewan M Wright, Iacopo Carusotto, Matteo Clerici, Daniele Faccio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

52 Scopus citations


Quantum gases of atoms and exciton-polaritons are now well-established theoretical and experimental tools for fundamental studies of quantum many-body physics and suggest promising applications to quantum computing. Given their technological complexity, it is of paramount interest to devise other systems where such quantum many-body physics can be investigated at lesser technological expense. Here we examine a relatively well-known system of laser light propagating through thermo-optical defocusing media: based on a hydrodynamic description of light as a quantum fluid of interacting photons, we investigate such systems as a valid room-temperature alternative to atomic or exciton–polariton condensates for studies of many-body physics. First, we show that by using a technique traditionally used in oceanography it is possible to perform a direct measurement of the single-particle part of the dispersion relation of the elementary excitations on top of the photon fluid and to detect its global flow. Then, using a pump-and-probe setup, we investigate the dispersion of excitation modes of the fluid: for very long wavelengths, a sonic, dispersionless propagation is observed that we interpret as a signature of superfluid behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)484-490
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2015


  • Kerr effect
  • Nonlinear optics, Materials
  • Photothermal effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials

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    Vocke, D., Roger, T., Marino, F., Wright, E. M., Carusotto, I., Clerici, M., & Faccio, D. (2015). Experimental characterization of nonlocal photon fluids. Optica, 2(5), 484-490. https://doi.org/10.1364/OPTICA.2.000484