Multiple self-organized phases and spatial solitons in cold atoms mediated by optical feedback

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We study the transverse self-structuring of cold atomic clouds with effective atomic interactions mediated by a coherent driving beam retroreflected by means of a single mirror. The resulting self-structuring due to optomechanical forces is much richer than that of an effective-Kerr medium, displaying hexagonal, stripe and honeycomb phases depending on the interaction strength parametrized by the linear susceptibility. Phase domains are described by Ginzburg-Landau amplitude equations with real coefficients. In the stripe phase the system recovers inversion symmetry. Moreover, the subcritical character of the honeycomb phase allows for light-density feedback solitons functioning as self-sustained dark atomic traps with motion controlled by phase gradients in the driving beam.
Original languageEnglish
Article number203201
Number of pages6
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2021


  • angular momentum of light
  • cold atoms and matter waves
  • nonlinear optics
  • optomechanics
  • pattern formation

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