Nature2014-01-07 10:13 PM

Attractive photons in a quantum nonlinear medium 量子非线性介质中的有吸引力的光子

Abstract The fundamental properties of light derive from its constituent particles—massless quanta (photons) that do not interact with one another. However, it has long been known that the realization of coherent interactions between individual photons, akin to those associated with conventional massive particles, could enable a wide variety of novel scientific and engineering applications. Here we demonstrate a quantum nonlinear medium inside which individual photons travel as massive particles with strong mutual attraction, such that the propagation of photon pairs is dominated by a two-photon bound state. We achieve this through dispersive coupling of light to strongly interacting atoms in highly excited Rydberg states. We measure the dynamical evolution of the two-photon wavefunction using time-resolved quantum state tomography, and demonstrate a conditional phase shift exceeding one radian, resulting in polarization-entangled photon pairs. Particular applications of this technique include all-optical switching, deterministic photonic quantum logic and the generation of strongly correlated states of light. 论文摘要 光的基本性质来自于其构成粒子,即彼此不相互作用的无质量量子(光子)。但人们早就知道单个光子间相干相互作用的实现(类似于那些与常规重粒子有关的相互作用)可以开拓多种新颖科学和工程应用。在此我们证明了量子非线性介质,在该介质中单个光子作为重粒子运动且具有较强相互吸引,光子对的传播受双光子束缚态控制。我们通过在高激发里德伯态下对光色散耦合来使原子间强烈相互作用从而实现这一目标。我们运用时间分辨量子态层析成像测量了双光子波函数的动力学演化并演示了超过一弧度的有条件相移,这产生了偏振纠缠的光子对。该技术的具体应用包括全光开关,确定性光子的量子逻辑和光强关联状态的生成。

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