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Thermalization and condensation in an incoherently pumped passive optical cavity

Abstract : We study theoretically and numerically the condensation and the thermalization of classical optical waves in an incoherently pumped passive Kerr cavity. We show that the dynamics of the cavity exhibits a turbulent behavior that can be described by the wave turbulence theory. A mean-field kinetic equation is derived, which reveals that, in its high finesse regime, the cavity behaves essentially as a conservative Hamiltonian system. In particular, the intracavity turbulent field is shown to relax adiabatically toward a thermodynamic equilibrium state of energy equipartition. As a consequence of this effect of wave thermalization, the incoherent optical field undergoes a process of condensation, characterized by the spontaneous emergence of a plane wave from the incoherently pumped cavity. The condensation process is an equilibrium phase transition that occurs below a critical value of the (kinetic) energy of the incoherent pump. In spite of the dissipative nature of the cavity dynamics, the condensate fraction of the high-finesse cavity field is found in quantitative agreement with the theory inherited from the purely conservative (Hamiltonian) nonlinear Schr¨odinger equation.
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Claire Michel, Marc Haelterman, P. Suret, S. Randoux, R. Kaiser, et al.. Thermalization and condensation in an incoherently pumped passive optical cavity. Physical Review A, American Physical Society, 2011, 84, pp.033848. ⟨10.1103/PhysRevA.84.033848⟩. ⟨hal-00699907⟩

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