May 23, 2012
Efficient, Tunable Interface For Quantum Networks
Quantum technologies promise to redefine the landscape of information processing and communication. We already live in an information age, in which vast amounts of data are sent around the world over optical fibers, but future quantum networks may be many times more powerful. These networks will require interfaces that can transfer information from quantum processors onto light particles (photons). Such interfaces will allow optical fibers to transmit information-bearing photons between remote data registers, which are likely to be composed of quantum dots or ions. In contrast to classical information, quantum information can't be copied without being corrupted. Instead, physicists around the world are searching for ways to transfer quantum information between matter and light using entanglement, the quantum property in which the state of one particle depends on the state of a second. Now, a research team led by Rainer Blatt, Tracy Northup, and Andreas Stute at the University of Innsbruck's Institute for Experimental Physics has demonstrated the first interface between a single ion and a single photon that is both efficient and freely tunable.
High efficiency and precision
Technology for the future
The experiment offers important insights into the interaction of light and matter and may prove useful in constructing quantum computers or a future quantum internet. "Whenever we have to transfer quantum information from processing sites to communication channels, and vice versa, we're going to need an interface between light and matter," explains Northup. The researchers are supported by the Austrian Science Fund and the European Union. Their results appear in the May 24 issue of Nature.
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