Quasiclassical modeling of cavity quantum electrodynamics

Tao E. Li, Hsing Ta Chen, Abraham Nitzan, Joseph E. Subotnik*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We model a collection of N two-level systems (TLSs) coupled to a multimode cavity via Meyer-Miller-Stock-Thoss (MMST) dynamics, sampling both electronic and photonic zero-point energies (ZPEs) and propagating independent trajectories in Wigner phase space. By investigating the ground-state stability of a single TLS, we use MMST dynamics to separately study both electronic ZPE effects (which would naively lead to the breakdown of the electronic ground state) and photonic ZPE effects (which would naively lead to spontaneous absorption). By contrast, including both effects, i.e., sampling both electronic and photonic ZPEs, leads to the dynamical stability of the electronic ground state. Therefore, MMST dynamics provides a practical way to identify the contributions of self-interaction and vacuum fluctuations. More importantly, we find that MMST dynamics can predict accurate quantum dynamics for both electronic populations and electromagnetic field intensity in the high saturation limit. For a single TLS in a cavity, MMST dynamics correctly predicts the initial exponential decay of spontaneous emission, Poincaré recurrences, and the positional dependence of a spontaneous emission rate. For an array of N equally spaced TLSs with only one TLS excited initially, MMST dynamics correctly predicts the modification of spontaneous emission rate as a function of the spacing between TLSs. Finally, MMST dynamics also correctly models Dicke's superradiance and subradiance, i.e., the dynamics when all TLSs are excited initially, including the correct quantum statistics for the delay time (as found by counting trajectories, for which a full quantum simulation is hard to achieve). Therefore, this work raises the possibility of simulating large-scale collective light-matter interactions with methods beyond mean-field theory.

Original languageEnglish
Article number033831
JournalPhysical Review A
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
Vagelos Institute for Energy Science and Technology
U.S. Department of EnergyDE-AC02-05CH11231
Office of Science
Basic Energy Sciences
University of Pennsylvania
Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences Division
National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center


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