At very low temperatures, steady-state macroscopic superpositions can be generated in a micromaser pumped by a stream of polarized two-level atoms. We show that the onset of these superpositions can be interpreted in terms of a first-order phase transition. While conventional bistable systems involved an incoherent mixture of two state localized at the two minima of an effective potential, the present situation is characterized by a coherent superposition of two such states.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering