The collective absorption and emission of light by an ensemble of atoms is at the heart of many fundamental quantum optical effects and the basis for numerous applications. However, beyond weak excitation, both experiment and theory become increasingly challenging. Here, we explore the regimes from weak excitation to inversion with ensembles of up to one thousand atoms that are trapped and optically interfaced using the evanescent field surrounding an optical nanofiber. We realize strong inversion, with about 80% of the atoms being excited, and study their subsequent radiative decay into the guided modes. The data is very well described by a simple model that assumes a cascaded interaction of the guided light with the atoms. Our results contribute to the fundamental understanding of the collective interaction of light and matter and are relevant for applications ranging from quantum memories to sources of nonclassical light to optical frequency standards.
|Presenter name||Christian Liedl|