Dissipation-induced structural instability and chiral dynamics in a quantum gas.
Dissipative and unitary processes define the evolution of a many-body system. Their interplay gives rise to dynamical phase transitions and can lead to instabilities. In this study, we observe a nonstationary state of chiral nature in a synthetic many-body system with independently controllable unitary and dissipative couplings. Our experiment is based on a spinor Bose gas interacting with an optical resonator. Orthogonal quadratures of the resonator field coherently couple the Bose-Einstein condensate to two different atomic spatial modes, whereas the dispersive effect of the resonator losses mediates a dissipative coupling between these modes. In a regime of dominant dissipative coupling, we observe the chiral evolution and relate it to a positional instability.