Quantum fluids of light in all-optical scatterer lattices

One of the recently established paradigms in condensed matter physics is examining a system’s behaviour in artificial potentials, giving insight into phenomena of quantum fluids in hard-to-reach settings. A prominent example is the matter-wave scatterer lattice, where high energy matter waves undergo transmission and reflection through narrow width barriers leading to stringent phase matching conditions with lattice band formation. In contrast to evanescently coupled lattice sites, the realisation of a scatterer lattice for macroscopic matter-wave fluids has remained elusive. Here, we implement a system of exciton-polariton condensates in a non-Hermitian Lieb lattice of scatterer potentials. By fine tuning the lattice parameters, we reveal a nonequilibrium phase transition between distinct regimes of polariton condensation: a scatterer lattice of gain guided polaritons condensing on the lattice potential maxima, and trapped polaritons condensing in the potential minima. Our results pave the way towards unexplored physics of non-Hermitian fluids in non-stationary mixtures of confined and freely expanding waves.