In cold atomic gases illuminated by light, atoms scatter the incident optical field and light scattered by the other atoms in the cloud. The effective long-range interatomic interaction due to the optical forces produced by the scattered light can give rise to cooperative behaviour. We are developing models of cooperative scattering in cold atomic gases with a view to developing laboratory analogues of astrophysical radiation-driven phenomena e.g. photon bubbles, optical forces produced by blackbody radiation. Recent work includes the prediction of multimode scattering from a gas of cold atoms [1], in collaboration with the Applied Quantum Mechanics group, Universita degli Studi, Milan and Instituto de Plasmas e Fusão Nuclear, Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisbon.

Atomic distribution before (a) and after (b) cooperative scattering [1].

[1] R. Ayllon, J. T. Mendonça, A. T. Gisbert, N. Piovella, and G. R. M. Robb, “Multimode collective scattering of light in free space by a cold atomic gas”, Phys. Rev. A 100, 023630 (2019).

Funder: STFC