Nonreciprocal Atomic Scattering: A saturable, quantum Yagi-Uda antenna

C. Müller, J. Combes, A. R. Hamann, A. Fedorov and T. Stace

Recent theoretical studies of a pair of atoms in a 1D waveguide find that the system responds asymmetrically to incident fields from opposing directions at low powers. Since there is no explicit time-reversal symmetry breaking elements in the device, this has caused some debate. Here we show that the asymmetry arises from the formation of a quasi-dark-state of the two atoms, which saturates at extremely low power. In this case the nonlinear saturability explicitly breaks the assumptions of the Lorentz reciprocity theorem. Moreover, we show that the statistics of the output field from the driven system can be explained by a very simple stochastic mirror model and that at steady state, the two atoms and the local field are driven to an entangled, tripartite |W⟩ state. Because of this, we argue that the device is better understood as a saturable Yagi-Uda antenna, a distributed system of differentially-tuned dipoles that couples asymmetrically to external fields.