Interfacing cold atoms with nanophotonic systems
Significant efforts have been made to interface cold atoms with micro- and nano-photonic systems in recent years. Originally, it was envisioned that the migration to these systems from free-space atomic ensemble or macroscopic cavity QED experiments could dramatically improve figures of merit and facilitate scalability. However, a more interesting question is whether nanophotonic systems can yield intrinsically new capabilities to manipulate quantum light-matter interactions, such as by exploiting the ability to engineer the dimensionality and optical dispersion relations.
Here, we discuss two examples of fundamentally new possibilities. The first involves the engineering of quantum vacuum ("Casimir") forces in the vicinity of dielectric structures. We show that these forces can be used to create stable atomic traps within 10 nm distances of dielectric surfaces, with parameters (such as depth) beyond what is achievable with conventional trapping techniques. The second example exploits the tailoring of dispersion relations to enable the formation of exotic atom-photon "bound states," in which atoms become dressed with photonic clouds of a controllable size. We show that this effect allows one to realize and control long-range atomic interactions mediated by the photonic clouds, providing a powerful new tool for quantum simulation with cold atoms.