Observation of the photon-blockade breakdown phase transition

J. M. Fink, A. Dombi, A. Vukics, A. Wallraff, P. Domokos

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50 Citations (Scopus)


Nonequilibrium phase transitions exist in damped-driven open quantum systems when the continuous tuning of an external parameter leads to a transition between two robust steady states. In second-order transitions this change is abrupt at a critical point, whereas in first-order transitions the two phases can coexist in a critical hysteresis domain. Here, we report the observation of a first-order dissipative quantum phase transition in a driven circuit quantum electrodynamics system. It takes place when the photon blockade of the driven cavity-atom system is broken by increasing the drive power. The observed experimental signature is a bimodal phase space distribution with varying weights controlled by the drive strength. Our measurements show an improved stabilization of the classical attractors up to the millisecond range when the size of the quantum system is increased from one to three artificial atoms. The formation of such robust pointer states could be used for new quantum measurement schemes or to investigate multiphoton phases of finite-size, nonlinear, open quantum systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number011012
JournalPhysical Review X
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 31 2017



  • Condensed matter physics
  • Quantum physics
  • Superconductivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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