Detecting photon-photon interactions in a superconducting circuit

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A local interaction between photons can be engineered by coupling a nonlinear system to a transmission line. The required transmission line can be conveniently formed from a chain of Josephson junctions. The nonlinearity is generated by side-coupling this chain to a Cooper pair box. We propose to probe the resulting photon-photon interactions via their effect on the current-voltage characteristic of a voltage-biased Josephson junction connected to the transmission line. Considering the Cooper pair box to be in the weakly anharmonic regime, we find that the dc current through the probe junction yields features around the voltages 2eV=n ωs, where ωs is the plasma frequency of the superconducting circuit. The features at n≥2 are a direct signature of the photon-photon interaction in the system.





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Jin, LJ, M Houzet, JS Meyer, HU Baranger and FWJ Hekking (2015). Detecting photon-photon interactions in a superconducting circuit. Physical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics, 92(13). 10.1103/PhysRevB.92.134503 Retrieved from

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Harold U. Baranger

Professor of Physics

The broad focus of Prof. Baranger's group is quantum open systems at the nanoscale, particularly the generation of correlation between particles in such systems. Fundamental interest in nanophysics-- the physics of small, nanometer scale, bits of solid-- stems from the ability to control and probe systems on length scales larger than atoms but small enough that the averaging inherent in bulk properties has not yet occurred. Using this ability, entirely unanticipated phenomena can be uncovered on the one hand, and the microscopic basis of bulk phenomena can be probed on the other. Additional interest comes from the many links between nanophysics and nanotechnology. Within this thematic area, our work ranges from projects trying to nail down realistic behavior in well-characterized systems, to more speculative projects reaching beyond regimes investigated experimentally to date.

Correlations between particles are a central issue in many areas of condensed matter physics, from emergent many-body phenomena in complex materials, to strong matter-light interactions in quantum information contexts, to transport properties of single molecules. Such correlations, for either electrons or bosons (photons, plasmons, phonons,…), underlie key phenomena in nanostructures. Using the exquisite control of nanostructures now possible, experimentalists will be able to engineer correlations in nanosystems in the near future. Of particular interest are cases in which one can tune the competition between different types of correlation, or in which correlation can be tunably enhanced or suppressed by other effects (such as confinement or interference), potentially causing a quantum phase transition-- a sudden, qualitative change in the correlations in the system.

My recent work has addressed correlations in both electronic systems (quantum wires and dots) and photonic systems (photon waveguides). We have focused on 3 different systems: (1) qubits coupled to a photonic waveguide, (2) quantum dots in a dissipative environment, and (3) interfaces between graphene and a superconductor, particularly when graphene is in the quantum Hall state. The methods used are both analytical and numerical, and are closely linked to experiments.

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