Photonic simulation of giant atom decay

Longhi, Stefano
Optics Letters 45, 3017-3020 (2020)

Spontaneous emission of an excited atom in a featureless continuum of electromagnetic modes is a fundamental process in quantum electrodynamics associated with an exponential decay of the quantum emitter to its ground state accompanied by an irreversible emission of a photon. However, such a simple scenario is deeply modified when considering a “giant” atom, i.e., an atom whose dimension is larger than the wavelength of the emitted photon. In such an unconventional regime, non-Markovian effects and strong deviations from an exponential decay are observed owing to interference effects arising from nonlocal light–atom coupling. Here we suggest a photonic simulation of non-Markovian giant atom decay, based on light escape dynamics in an optical waveguide nonlocally coupled to a waveguide lattice. Major effects, such as nonexponential decay, enhancement, or slowing down of the decay, and formation of atom-field dark states can be emulated in this system.

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