Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Two photons strongly coupled by glass fiber

03.11.2014

At the Vienna University of Technology, 2 photons have been made to interact strongly using an ultra-thin glass fiber; This technique is an important new tool for quantum technology

Two photons in free space do not interact. Light waves can pass through each other without having any influence on each other at all. For many applications in quantum technology, however, interaction between photons is crucial.


The light in a glass fiber is coupled to a bottle resonator.

Credit: TU Wien


Light runs around a bottle-shaped glass fiber, about half as thick as a human hair.

Credit: TU Wien

It is an indispensable prerequisite for transmitting information through tap-proof quantum channels or for building optical logic gates. At the Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien), scientists have now succeeded in establishing a strong interaction between two single photons. This opens up completely new possibilities for quantum optics. The experimental results have now been published in the journal "Nature Photonics".

Interaction Usually Requires Bright Light

"In order to have light interact with light, people have been using so-called nonlinear media", says Professor Arno Rauschenbeutel (Institute for Atomic and Subatomic Physics, TU Wien). The light has an effect on the properties of these materials, and the material in turn influences the light, which leads to an indirect coupling between photons. This technique, however, can only be used at strong light intensities, when countless photons are involved.

At TU Wien, a system was built which creates a strong interaction between only two photons. This interaction is so strong that the phase of the photons is changed by 180 degrees. "It is like a pendulum, which should actually swing to the left, but due to coupling with a second pendulum, it swings to the right. There cannot be a more extreme change in the pendulum's oscillation", says Rauschenbeutel. "We achieve the strongest possible interaction with the smallest possible intensity of light."

A Photon in a Bottle

To make this possible, the photon has to be sent on an unlikely journey. An ultra-thin glass fibre is coupled to a tiny bottle-like light resonator so that light can partly enter the resonator, move in circles and return to the glass fibre. This detour through the resonator leads to the phase of the photon being inverted: a wave crest appears where a wave trough would have been expected.

When, however, a single rubidium atom is coupled to the resonator, the system is changed dramatically. Due to the presence of the atom, hardly any light enters the resonator anymore and the oscillation phase of the photon cannot be inverted.

Two Photons at Once

Things change when two photons arrive at the same time. "The atom is an absorber which can be saturated", says Arno Rauschenbeutel. "A photon is absorbed by the atom for a short while and then released into the resonator. During that time, it cannot absorb any other photons. If two photons arrive simultaneously, only one can be absorbed, while the other can still be phase shifted."

From a quantum mechanical point of view, there is no difference between the two photons. They can only be understood as a joint wave-like object, which is located in the resonator and in the glass fibre at the same time. The photons are indistinguishable. No one can tell which of them is being absorbed and which one has passed. When both hit the resonator at the same time, both of them together experience a phase shift by 180 degrees. Two interacting photons arriving simultaneously show a completely different behaviour than single photons.

The Building Blocks of Future Quantum Data-Highways?

"That way, a maximally entangled photon state can be created", says Arno Rauschenbeutel. "Such states are required in all fields of quantum optics – in quantum teleportation, or for light-transistors which could potentially be used for quantum computing."

A big advantage of the new system is that it is based on glass fibre technology, which is already being used for online communication anyway. Nano glass fibres and bottle-resonators are perfectly compatible with existing technologies. The targeted creation of a strong photon-photon-interaction is an important step towards a worldwide quantum information network for the tap-proof transmission of data.

Further information:

Prof. Arno Rauschenbeutel
Insitute for Atomic and Subatomic Physics
Vienna Center for Quantum Science and Technology
TU Wien
Stadionallee 2, 1020 Wien
T: +43-1-58801-141761
arno.rauschenbeutel@tuwien.ac.at

Dr. Jürgen Volz
Insitute for Atomic and Subatomic Physics
Vienna Center for Quantum Science and Technology
TU Wien
Stadionallee 2, 1020 Wien
T: +43-1-58801-141739
juergen.volz@tuwien.ac.at

Florian Aigner | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.tuwien.ac.at/tu_vienna/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht When helium behaves like a black hole
22.03.2017 | University of Vermont

nachricht Astronomers hazard a ride in a 'drifting carousel' to understand pulsating stars
22.03.2017 | International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Pulverizing electronic waste is green, clean -- and cold

22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers hazard a ride in a 'drifting carousel' to understand pulsating stars

22.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New gel-like coating beefs up the performance of lithium-sulfur batteries

22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>