Inelastic Scattering of a Photon by a Quantum Phase Slip

R. Kuzmin, N. Grabon, N. Mehta, A. Burshtein, M. Goldstein, M. Houzet, L. I. Glazman, V. E. Manucharyan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spontaneous decay of a single photon is a notoriously inefficient process in nature irrespective of the frequency range. We report that a quantum phase-slip fluctuation in high-impedance superconducting waveguides can split a single incident microwave photon into a large number of lower-energy photons with a near unit probability. The underlying inelastic photon-photon interaction has no analogs in nonlinear optics. Instead, the measured decay rates are explained without adjustable parameters in the framework of a new model of a quantum impurity in a Luttinger liquid. Our result connects circuit quantum electrodynamics to critical phenomena in two-dimensional boundary quantum field theories, important in the physics of strongly correlated systems. The photon lifetime data represent a rare example of verified and useful quantum many-body simulation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number197701
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number19
StatePublished - 12 May 2021


FundersFunder number
US AROW911NF-15-1-0397
U.S. Department of EnergyDE-SC0020160, DE-FG02- 08ER46482
United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation2014262, 2016224
Israel Science Foundation227/15, ANR-16-CE30-0019


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