Synopsis: Mirror, Mirror in Free Space

A Fabry-Pérot cavity exhibits the same behavior when an atom replaces a mirror.
Synopsis figure
Adapted from G. Hétet et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. (2011)

Electromagnetic fields change with boundary conditions around them. For example, a cavity made up of two end mirrors alters the field inside it.

In a paper in Physical Review Letters, Gabriel Hétet and colleagues at the University of Innsbruck in Austria report an experiment in which one mirror of a cavity is replaced by a barium ion 30 cm away, trapped in free space by an applied electric field. The presence of the single mirror alters the field around the atom, which also acts like a mirror and coherently reflects incident light. The experiment demonstrates how the presence of the mirror alters the way the atom couples to the laser light and changes the atomic coupling constant. The group observed that the setup behaves just like a simple cavity with two parallel mirrors, called a Fabry-Pérot cavity.

This part-cavity, part-free-space setup—an advance in the field of cavity quantum electrodynamics—can be used for storage and retrieval of single photons from the atom, necessary for quantum communication protocols. – Sonja Grondalski


More Features »


More Announcements »

Subject Areas

Quantum InformationOptics

Previous Synopsis

Fluid Dynamics

Tiny Bubbles Burn Just Fine

Read More »

Next Synopsis


Electrons Churn Up Spin Waves

Read More »

Related Articles

Synopsis: Getting Plasma in a Twist

Synopsis: Getting Plasma in a Twist

Laser vortex beams can exchange their optical angular momentum with a plasma from which they are reflected. Read More »

Synopsis: Starting Fluid for Laser Fusion
Energy Research

Synopsis: Starting Fluid for Laser Fusion

A laser-based fusion experiment demonstrates that liquid fuel capsules could rectify problems encountered with ice-based fuel capsules. Read More »

Synopsis: Graphene’s Elegant Optics Explained

Synopsis: Graphene’s Elegant Optics Explained

Theoretical calculations anchor graphene’s simple optical absorption in its two-dimensional structure instead of its cone-shaped energy bands. Read More »

More Articles