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Saint-Jalm, R.; Aidelsburger, M.; Ville, J. L.; Corman, L.; Hadzibabic, Z.; Delande, D.; Nascimbene, S.; Cherroret, N.; Dalibard, J.; Beugnon, J. (2018): Resonant-light diffusion in a disordered atomic layer. In: Physical Review A, Vol. 97, No. 6, 61801
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Abstract

Light scattering in dense media is a fundamental problem of many-body physics, which is also relevant for the development of optical devices. In this work we investigate experimentally light propagation in a dense sample of randomly positioned resonant scatterers confined in a layer of subwavelength thickness. We locally illuminate the atomic cloud and monitor spatially resolved fluorescence away from the excitation region. We show that light spreading is well described by a diffusion process, involving many scattering events in the dense regime. For light detuned from resonance we find evidence that the atomic layer behaves as a graded-index planar waveguide. These features are reproduced by a simple geometrical model and numerical simulations of coupled dipoles.