Nanophotonic quantum phase switch with a single atom

Nature. 2014 Apr 10;508(7495):241-4. doi: 10.1038/nature13188.


By analogy to transistors in classical electronic circuits, quantum optical switches are important elements of quantum circuits and quantum networks. Operated at the fundamental limit where a single quantum of light or matter controls another field or material system, such a switch may enable applications such as long-distance quantum communication, distributed quantum information processing and metrology, and the exploration of novel quantum states of matter. Here, by strongly coupling a photon to a single atom trapped in the near field of a nanoscale photonic crystal cavity, we realize a system in which a single atom switches the phase of a photon and a single photon modifies the atom's phase. We experimentally demonstrate an atom-induced optical phase shift that is nonlinear at the two-photon level, a photon number router that separates individual photons and photon pairs into different output modes, and a single-photon switch in which a single 'gate' photon controls the propagation of a subsequent probe field. These techniques pave the way to integrated quantum nanophotonic networks involving multiple atomic nodes connected by guided light.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.