Observation of inversion, hysteresis, and collapse of spin in optically trapped polariton condensates


The spin and intensity of optically trapped polariton condensates are studied under steady-state elliptically polarized nonresonant pumping. Three distinct effects are observed: (1) spin inversion where condensation occurs in the opposite handedness from the pump, (2) spin and intensity hysteresis as the pump power is scanned, and (3) a sharp “spin collapse” transition in the condensate spin as a function of the pump ellipticity. We show these effects are strongly dependent on trap size and sample position and are linked to small counterintuitive energy differences between the condensate spin components. Our results, which fail to be fully described within the commonly used nonlinear equations for polariton condensates, show that a more accurate microscopic picture is needed to unify these phenomena in a two-dimensional condensate theory.

Physical Review B