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Coherent excitation of Rydberg atoms in micrometre-sized atomic vapour cells


The coherent control of mesoscopic ensembles of atoms and Rydberg atom blockade are the basis for proposed quantum devices such as integrable gates and single-photon sources. To date, experimental progress has been limited to complex experimental set-ups that use ultracold atoms. Here, we show that coherence times of 100 ns are achievable with coherent Rydberg atom spectroscopy in micrometre-sized thermal vapour cells. We investigate states with principle quantum numbers between 30 and 50. Our results demonstrate that microcells with a size on the order of the blockade radius (2 µm), at temperatures of 100–300 °C, are robust and promising candidates for investigating low-dimensional strongly interacting Rydberg gases, constructing quantum gates and building single-photon sources.

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Figure 1: Experimental set-up.
Figure 2: EIT scheme and transmission signals as a function of frequency.
Figure 3: Comparison of the shift and broadening as a function of wedge thickness for the 32S and 43S states.
Figure 4: The transmission curves of the 32S state as a function of frequency and thickness.
Figure 5: Transmission curves for the 41D state.


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We acknowledge fruitful discussions with H.P. Büchler, C.S. Adams and H. Giessen, as well as financial support from the Landesstiftung Baden-Württemberg. J.P. S. acknowledges support from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the National Science Foundation (PHY-0855324). We acknowledge the technical assistance of R. August and J. Quack.

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H.K. and J.S. took and analysed the data. All authors conceived the experiment. T.B. fabricated the cells. H.K. and J.S. prepared the manuscript. T.P. and R.L. also contributed to the manuscript. T.P. supervised and coordinated all the work.

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Correspondence to T. Pfau.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Kübler, H., Shaffer, J., Baluktsian, T. et al. Coherent excitation of Rydberg atoms in micrometre-sized atomic vapour cells. Nature Photon 4, 112–116 (2010).

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