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Cavity electromagnetically induced transparency and all-optical switching using ion Coulomb crystals


The control of one light field by another, ultimately at the single photon level1,2,3,4,5,6,7, is a challenging task that has numerous interesting applications within nonlinear optics4,5 and quantum information science6,7,8. This type of control can only be achieved through highly nonlinear interactions, such as those based on electromagnetic induced transparency (EIT)2,3,4,5,6,9,10,11,12. Here, we demonstrate for the first time EIT as well as all-optical EIT-based light switching using ion Coulomb crystals situated in an optical cavity. Changes from essentially full transmission to full absorption of a single photon probe field are achieved within unprecedentedly narrow EIT windows of a few tens of kilohertz. By applying a weak switching field, this allows us to demonstrate nearly perfect switching of the transmission of the probe field. The results represent important milestones for future realizations of quantum information processing devices, such as high-efficiency quantum memories8,13,14, single-photon transistors15,16 and single-photon gates4,6,9.

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Figure 1: Optical setup and level schemes.
Figure 2: Cavity EIT.
Figure 3: All-optical switching.


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The authors are grateful to J. Marler for her help at an early stage of these experiments and acknowledge financial support from the Carlsberg Foundation, the Danish Natural Science Research Council through the European Science Foundation EuroQUAM ‘Cavity Mediated Molecular Cooling’ project and the STREP project ‘Physics of Ion Coulomb Crystals’ under the European Commission FP7 programme.

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The experiment was conceived by A.D. and M.D. and carried out by M.A. and A.D. The theoretical modelling and data analysis were accomplished by M.A. and A.D. A.D. and M.D. wrote the manuscript with contributions from M.A.

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Correspondence to Michael Drewsen.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Albert, M., Dantan, A. & Drewsen, M. Cavity electromagnetically induced transparency and all-optical switching using ion Coulomb crystals. Nature Photon 5, 633–636 (2011).

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