Photon generation in an electromagnetic cavity with a time-dependent boundary

Phys Rev Lett. 2010 Dec 3;105(23):233907. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.105.233907. Epub 2010 Dec 2.


We report the observation of photon generation in a microwave cavity with a time-dependent boundary condition. Our system is a microfabricated quarter-wave coplanar waveguide cavity. The electrical length of the cavity is varied by using the tunable inductance of a superconducting quantum interference device. It is measured at a temperature significantly less than the resonance frequency. When the length is modulated at approximately twice the static resonance frequency, spontaneous parametric oscillations of the cavity field are observed. Time-resolved measurements of the dynamical state of the cavity show multiple stable states. The behavior is well described by theory. Our results may be considered a preliminary step towards demonstrating the dynamical Casimir effect.