Synopsis: Atoms down the tube

Dense clouds of cold atoms have been produced in thin optical fibers.
Synopsis figure
Credit: M. Bajcsy et al., Phys. Rev. A (2011)

The scattering cross section for single photons resonantly interacting with an atom scales with the square of the photon wavelength, which, for resonances near the infrared, exceeds the geometrical size of an atom by eight orders of magnitude. Applications based on interactions between single photons and atoms, such as quantum information processing, can take full advantage of this large resonant cross section only if both light and the atoms are tightly confined.

A team of researchers at the Harvard-MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms has now greatly improved a new and promising technique for achieving this goal. Writing in Physical Review A, Michal Bajcsy and co-workers report on the simultaneous confinement of laser-cooled atoms and light in hollow-core photonic crystal fibers. These fibers, which are already used for nonlinear optical applications, confine the guided light to an empty central region through a photonic-band gap effect. Several years ago the authors already succeeded in trapping a few thousand rubidium atoms in the core of such a fiber and used this system to implement an all-optical switch controlled with less than a thousand photons. They have now increased the number of loaded atoms to 30,000, thus creating a system with great potential for control of light-matter interactions. With this new advance, combining cold atom and crystal fiber technology appears an attractive route toward creating effective atom-mediated interactions between single photons. – Mark Saffman


Announcements

More Announcements »

Subject Areas

Atomic and Molecular PhysicsOptics

Previous Synopsis

Superconductivity

Nodes or no nodes

Read More »

Next Synopsis

Superconductivity

Odd topological superconductor

Read More »

Related Articles

Synopsis: Taking Pictures with Single Ions
Atomic and Molecular Physics

Synopsis: Taking Pictures with Single Ions

A new ion microscope with nanometer-scale resolution builds up images using single ions emitted one at a time from an ion trap. Read More »

Viewpoint: Squeezed Light Reengineers Resonance Fluorescence
Atomic and Molecular Physics

Viewpoint: Squeezed Light Reengineers Resonance Fluorescence

By bathing a superconducting qubit in squeezed light, researchers have been able to confirm a decades-old prediction for the resulting phase-dependent spectrum of resonance fluorescence. Read More »

Synopsis: Polarons Drive a Magneto-Optical Effect
Magnetism

Synopsis: Polarons Drive a Magneto-Optical Effect

A surprisingly large magneto-optical response occurs when mobile electrons in a cooled material become trapped by their interaction with the surrounding lattice. Read More »

More Articles