Quantum computing and condensed matter physics with microwave photons

Time-reversal-symmetry breaking in circuit-QED-based photon lattices

Jens Koch, Andrew A. Houck, Karyn Le Hur, and S. M. Girvin

Breaking time-reversal symmetry is a prerequisite for accessing certain interesting many-body states such as fractional quantum Hall states. For polaritons, charge neutrality prevents magnetic fields from providing a direct symmetry-breaking mechanism and, similar to the situation in ultracold atomic gases, an effective magnetic field has to be synthesized. We show that in the circuit-QED architecture, this can be achieved by inserting simple superconducting circuits into the resonator junctions. In the presence of such coupling elements, constant parallel magnetic and electric fields suffice to break time-reversal symmetry. We support these theoretical predictions with numerical simulations for realistic sample parameters, specify general conditions under which time reversal is broken, and discuss the application to chiral Fock-state transfer, an on-chip circulator, and tunable band structure for the Kagome lattice.