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Atomic spectroscopy on a chip


Guiding light through hollow optical waveguides has opened the field of photonics to the investigation of non-solid materials that have all the convenience of integrated optics. Of particular interest is the confinement of atomic vapours, such as rubidium, because of its wide range of applications, including slow and stopped light1, single-photon nonlinear optics2, quantum information processing3, precision spectroscopy4 and frequency stabilization5. Here, we present the first monolithically integrated rubidium vapour cell using hollow-core antiresonant reflecting optical waveguides (ARROWs) on a silicon chip. The cells have a footprint of less than 1 cm2, fully planar fibre-optical access, and a cell volume more than 7 orders of magnitude less than conventional bulk cells. The micrometre-sized mode areas enable high beam intensities over near centimetre lengths. We demonstrate optical densities in excess of 2, and saturation absorption spectroscopy on a chip. These results allow the study of atoms and molecules on a platform that combines the advantages of photonic-crystal-like structures with integrated optics.

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Figure 1: Planar atomic spectroscopy chip.
Figure 2: Rubidium spectroscopy on a chip.
Figure 3: Characteristics of an integrated rubidium cell.
Figure 4: Atomic spectroscopy on a chip.


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We thank A. Gaeta for helpful discussions and R. Brenning for assistance with chip fabrication. We acknowledge financial support by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Defense Sciences Offices (DSO) Slow-Light Program and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) contract #FA9550-05-1-0432 and the National Science Foundation (NSF) under grant ECS-0500602.

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Correspondence to Holger Schmidt.

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Yang, W., Conkey, D., Wu, B. et al. Atomic spectroscopy on a chip. Nature Photon 1, 331–335 (2007).

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