Cavity-Modified Collective Rayleigh Scattering of Two Atoms

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René Reimann, Wolfgang Alt, Tobias Kampschulte, Tobias Macha, Lothar Ratschbacher, Natalie Thau, Seokchan Yoon, and Dieter Meschede


Phys. Rev. Lett. 114, 023601 (2015)

We report on the observation of cooperative radiation of exactly two neutral atoms strongly coupled to the single mode field of an optical cavity, which is close to the lossless-cavity limit. Monitoring the cavity output power, we observe constructive and destructive interference of collective Rayleigh scattering for certain relative distances between the two atoms. Because of cavity backaction onto the atoms, the cavity output power for the constructive two-atom case (N=2) is almost equal to the single-emitter case (N=1), which is in contrast to free-space where one would expect an N2 scaling of the power. These effects are quantitatively explained by a classical model as well as by a quantum mechanical model based on Dicke states. We extract information on the relative phases of the light fields at the atom positions and employ advanced cooling to reduce the jump rate between the constructive and destructive atom configurations. Thereby we improve the control over the system to a level where the implementation of two-atom entanglement schemes involving optical cavities becomes realistic.