We give a microscopic description of the optical bistability, where the transmission coefficient has two different values as a function of input light intensity, and the system exhibits a discontinuous jump with a hysteresis loop. We developed an efficient numerical algorithm to treat the quantum master equation for hybridized systems of many photons and a large number of two-level atoms. By using this method, we characterize the bistability from the viewpoint of eigenmodes and eigenvalues of the time-evolution operator of the quantum master equation. We classify types of optical bistability according to the photon number density in the cavity. In contrast to previous studies of optical bistability in the high-photon-density regime where the photons can be treated as a classical electromagnetic field and the resonance spectrum has a single-peak structure, we study the nature of optical bistability in the low-photon-density regime where the hybridization of photon and atom degrees of freedom occurs and the resonance spectrum has a double-peak structure. Unraveling the nature of the optical bistability in the latter regime may be important for the manipulation of quantum systems. Concretely, we discuss the steady-state properties of the optical bistability: dependencies of the photon number density on the intensity and the double-peak structure of the photon number distribution inside the bistable region. As for the dynamical properties, we find that the relaxation timescale shows an exponential growth with the system size and reveal how the hysteresis loop of the optical bistability depends on the size of the system and the sweeping rate of the driving amplitude. Finally, by investigating the effects of detuning frequency of the input field, we clarify the characteristic properties of the present optical bistability within the low-photon-density regime, which are qualitatively different from the standard optical bistable phenomena.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics