Superfluid Phase Transition of Long-Lifetime Polaritons
Polaritons are quasiparticles of electronic excitation in semiconductor structures with extremely light mass, about four orders of magnitude less than a free electron. Because of this very light mass, polaritons show Bose quantum effects even at moderate densities and temperatures from tens of Kelvin up to room temperature. In the past five years, multiple experiments have shown effects of polaritons analogous to Bose condensation of cold atoms, such as a bimodal momentum distribution, quantized vortices, Bogoliubov excitation spectrum, and spatial condensation in a trap. In these experiments, though, the lifetime of the polaritons has been just a little longer than their thermalization time, which means that nonequilibrium effects play an important role; in particular, the transition to superfluidity has been smeared out rather than a sharp transition. In this talk I report new results with polaritons that have very long lifetime compared to their thermalization time. We see a discontinuous jump in the properties of the polariton gas indicative of a true phase transition, and we see ballistic transport over hundreds of microns. We also now have a way to use a laser to create a potential barrier for the polaritons.