Local Fluctuations in Cavity Control of Ferroelectricity

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Jonathan B. Curtis, Marios H. Michael, Eugene Demler


Control of quantum matter through resonant electromagnetic cavities is a promising route towards establishing control over material phases and functionalities. Quantum paraelectric insulators -- materials which are nearly ferroelectric -- are particularly promising candidate systems for this purpose since they have strongly fluctuating collective modes which directly couple to the electric field. In this work we explore this possibility in a system comprised of a quantum paraelectric sandwiched between two high-quality metal mirrors, realizing a Fabry-Perot type cavity. By developing a full multimode, continuum description we are able to study the effect of the cavity in a spatially resolved way for a variety of system sizes and temperatures. Surprisingly, we find that once a continuum of transverse modes are included the cavity ends up suppressing ferroelectric correlations. This effect arises from the screening out of transverse photons at the cavity boundaries and as a result is confined to the surface of the paraelectric sample. We also explore the temperature dependence of this effect and find it vanishes at high temperatures, indicating it is a purely quantum mechanical effect. We connect our result to calculations of Casimir and Van der Waals forces, which we argue are closely related to the dipolar fluctuations in the quantum paraelectric. Our results are based on a general formalism and are expected to be widely applicable, paving the way towards studies of the quantum electrodynamics of heterostructures featuring multiple materials and phases.

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