Table of contents

Slow light


In This Issue

This issue pv




Taking things slow p447


In optical networks of the future, the ability to slow and store light pulses to optimize the flow of data is likely to become indispensable. To celebrate the importance of the topic, this issue has a special focus dedicated to slow light.



Why do we need slow light? pp448 - 450

Thomas F. Krauss


The extreme speed at which light moves, and the fact that photons do not tend to interact with transparent matter, is of enormous benefit to mankind. It allows us to see deep into the Universe and to transmit data over long distances in optical fibres. So, why slow light down?

Optical information processing in Bose–Einstein condensates pp451 - 453

Lene Vestergaard Hau


Slow-light effects in ultracold atom clouds known as Bose–Einstein condensates offer rich opportunities for storing and processing optical signals.



Slow light now and then pp454 - 455

Interview with Robert Boyd


What are the origins of slow-light research and where is the field heading? Nature Photonics spoke to Robert Boyd to find out.


Research Highlights


News and Views

Carbon nanotubes: A quantum light source pp459 - 460

Anna Demming


Single-photon emission from carbon nanotubes has been observed by researchers in Switzerland. The findings give hope for a new type of light source for quantum computing and quantum communication.

Waveguiding: The best of both worlds pp460 - 461

Stefan A. Maier


Waveguides are crucial for directing light, but truly useful waveguides should confine light on the nanoscale. Researchers show that a semiconducting nanowire close to a metallic surface can confine light far below the diffraction limit and guide it over dozens of wavelengths.

Optical quantum information: The quantum information cocoon pp461 - 462

Geoff J. Pryde


Polarization is a convenient way to encode quantum information for cryptography, remote transfer and optical quantum computing, but sharing entanglement is problematic over a noisy link. Hiding in an isolated corner of the state space can make a big difference.

Quantum optics: Maxwell's demon opens new doors pp463 - 464

Adela Marian & Bretislav Friedrich


Maxwell's demon has now been realized using laser light. The ability to let atoms pass one way but not the other through a light 'gate' could provide new means to cool atomic and molecular vapours.

Bioimaging: Cellular vision p464

Amber Jenkins




Slow light in photonic crystals pp465 - 473

Toshihiko Baba


The unique properties of wide-bandwidth and dispersion-free propagation in photonic-crystal devices have made them a good candidate for slow-light generation. This article gives the background theory of slow light, as well as an overview of recent experimental demonstrations based on photonic-band engineering.

Slow and fast light in optical fibres pp474 - 481

Luc Thévenaz


This article reviews different approaches for slow- and fast-light generation in optical fibres at telecommunication wavelengths, with emphasis on the stimulated–Brillouin–scattering approach — a relatively active area in optical–fibre–based control of slow and fast light.



Enhanced light out-coupling of organic light-emitting devices using embedded low-index grids pp483 - 487

Yiru Sun & Stephen R. Forrest


Extracting light from organic LEDs is difficult owing to the refractive index of the materials used, and the output efficiency is typically limited to around 15–20%. By embedding a grid with a low refractive index into the organic layers and using a microlens array researchers have now managed to increase this figure to 34%, representing an improvement by factor of 2.3 over a conventional device.

Subject Category: Lasers, LEDs and light sources

Robust photonic entanglement distribution by state-independent encoding onto decoherence-free subspace pp488 - 491

Takashi Yamamoto, Kodai Hayashi, S cedilahin Kaya Özdemir, Masato Koashi & Nobuyuki Imoto


Before the practical implementation of quantum information schemes, there is a need to reduce loss, both in terms of photons and the information they carry. A robust scheme now experimentally demonstrated tackles this problem using so-called decoherence-free subspace.

Subject Categories: Quantum optics | Fibre optics and optical communications

See also: News and Views by Pryde

A high-efficiency display based on a telescopic pixel design pp492 - 495

Anna L. Pyayt, Gary K. Starkweather & Michael J. Sinclair


Several technologies have been invented as alternatives to the LCD, which transmits only a small portion of the backlight. Now researchers have come up with a display involving a telescopic pixel design, which can transmit 36% of the backlight. The eventual result could be large, bright displays that offer higher contrast at a low cost.

Subject Category: Displays

A hybrid plasmonic waveguide for subwavelength confinement and long-range propagation pp496 - 500

R. F. Oulton, V. J. Sorger, D. A. Genov, D. F. P. Pile & X. Zhang


Xiang Zhang and colleagues from the University of California, Berkeley, propose a new approach for confining light on scales much smaller than the wavelength of light. Using hybrid waveguides that incorporate dielectric and plasmonic waveguiding techniques, they are able to confine surface plasmon polaritons very strongly over large distances. The advance could lead to truly nanoscale plasmonics and photonics.

Subject Category: Plasmonics

See also: News and Views by Maier



Creation of a needle of longitudinally polarized light in vacuum using binary optics pp501 - 505

Haifeng Wang, Luping Shi, Boris Lukyanchuk, Colin Sheppard & Chong Tow Chong


Light is often thought of in terms of radial polarization, but longitudinal polarization is also possible, and it has some intriguing possibilities for particle acceleration. Binary optics, combined with a high-numerical-aperture lens, is a potential route to achieving light with this unusual property.

Subject Category: Fundamental optical physics


Photonics at NPG

Photonics at NPG p507

A round-up of recent papers in the field of photonics published by the physical sciences division of the Nature Publishing Group.


Product Focus

Laser safety equipment pp508 - 509


Protecting your eyes is of course important when using lasers. The good news is that safety eyewear is becoming increasingly comfortable and stylish. Neil Savage reports.



Telescopic displays p512

Interview with Anna Pyayt, Gary Starkweather & Michael Sinclair


Liquid-crystal displays are hugely successful in today's world, but their back-light transmission efficiency is relatively small. Nature Photonics spoke to Anna Pyayt, who, with colleagues at Microsoft, has devised a display approach that could offer improved light efficiency at lower cost.


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