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A single-photon turnstile device


Quantum-mechanical interference between indistinguishable quantum particles profoundly affects their arrival time and counting statistics. Photons from a thermal source tend to arrive together (bunching) and their counting distribution is broader than the classical Poisson limit1. Electrons from a thermal source, on the other hand, tend to arrive separately (anti-bunching) and their counting distribution is narrower than the classical Poisson limit2,3,4. Manipulation of quantum-statistical properties of photons with various non-classical sources is at the heart of quantum optics: features normally characteristic of fermions — such as anti-bunching, sub-poissonian and squeezing (sub-shot-noise) behaviours — have now been demonstrated5. A single-photon turnstile device was proposed6,7,8 to realize an effect similar to conductance quantization. Only one electron can occupy a single state owing to the Pauli exclusion principle and, for an electron waveguide that supports only one propagating transverse mode, this leads to the quantization of electrical conductance: the conductance of each propagating mode is then given by GQ = e2/h (where e is the charge of the electron and h is Planck's constant; ref. 9). Here we report experimental progress towards generation of a similar flow of single photons with a well regulated time interval.

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Figure 1: Operation and fabrication of our single-photon turnstile device.
Figure 2: The electrical characteristics of the single-photon turnstile device.
Figure 3: The photon emission characteristics of the single-photon turnstile device.


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We thank H. H. Hogue for providing us with SSPM detectors. This work was partially supported by JSEP.

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Kim, J., Benson, O., Kan, H. et al. A single-photon turnstile device. Nature 397, 500–503 (1999).

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