Pump-power-driven mode switching in a microcavity device and its relation to Bose-Einstein condensation

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


  • H. A.M. Leymann - , Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, Max-Planck-Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems (Author)
  • D. Vorberg - , Max-Planck-Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems (Author)
  • T. Lettau - , Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg (Author)
  • C. Hopfmann - , Technical University of Berlin (Author)
  • C. Schneider - , University of Würzburg (Author)
  • M. Kamp - , University of Würzburg (Author)
  • S. Höfling - , University of Würzburg, University of St Andrews (Author)
  • R. Ketzmerick - , Chair of Computational Physics, Max-Planck-Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems (Author)
  • J. Wiersig - , Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg (Author)
  • S. Reitzenstein - , Technical University of Berlin (Author)
  • A. Eckardt - , Max-Planck-Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems (Author)


We investigate the switching of the coherent emission mode of a bimodal microcavity device, occurring when the pump power is varied. We compare experimental data to theoretical results and identify the underlying mechanism based on the competition between the effective gain, on the one hand, and the intermode kinetics, on the other.When the pumping is ramped up, above a threshold, the mode with the largest effective gain starts to emit coherent light, corresponding to lasing. In contrast, in the limit of strong pumping, it is the intermode kinetics that determines which mode acquires a large occupation and shows coherent emission. We point out that this latter mechanism is akin to the equilibrium Bose-Einstein condensation of massive bosons. Thus, the mode switching in our microcavity device can be viewed as a minimal instance of Bose-Einstein condensation of photons. Moreover, we show that the switching from one cavity mode to the other always occurs via an intermediate phase where both modes are emitting coherent light and that it is associated with both superthermal intensity fluctuations and strong anticorrelations between both modes.


Original languageEnglish
Article number021045
JournalPhysical Review X
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • Photonics, Quantum physics, Statistical physics

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