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Spectral compression of single photons


Photons are critical to quantum technologies because they can be used for virtually all quantum information tasks, for example, in quantum metrology1, as the information carrier in photonic quantum computation2,3, as a mediator in hybrid systems4, and to establish long-distance networks5. The physical characteristics of photons in these applications differ drastically; spectral bandwidths span 12 orders of magnitude from 50 THz (ref. 6) for quantum-optical coherence tomography7 to 50 Hz for certain quantum memories8. Combining these technologies requires coherent interfaces that reversibly map centre frequencies and bandwidths of photons to avoid excessive loss. Here, we demonstrate bandwidth compression of single photons by a factor of 40 as well as tunability over a range 70 times that bandwidth via sum-frequency generation with chirped laser pulses. This constitutes a time-to-frequency interface for light capable of converting time-bin to colour entanglement9, and enables ultrafast timing measurements. It is a step towards arbitrary waveform generation10 for single and entangled photons.

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Figure 1: Single-photon bandwidth compression scheme.
Figure 2: Single-photon spectra versus wavelength (top) and relative frequency (bottom).
Figure 3: Wavelength tunability.
Figure 4: Temporal correlations with the idler photon.


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The authors thank A. Branczyk, D. Hamel, A. Kallin, R. Melko, M. Piani, R. Prevedel, S. Ramelow, K. Shalm and J. Watrous for helpful discussions. The authors acknowledge financial support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), QuantumWorks, the Ontario Graduate Scholarship Program (OGS) and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation Early Researcher Award.

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Authors and Affiliations



A.F. and K.J.R. conceived the idea for the study. K.J.R., A.F. and J.L. designed the experiment. J.L. performed the experiments and analysed the data. J.M.D. and L.G.W. contributed to building the experimental setup and in taking data. All authors contributed to writing the manuscript. A.F. is supported by an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award DE130100240.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to J. Lavoie or K. J. Resch.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Lavoie, J., Donohue, J., Wright, L. et al. Spectral compression of single photons. Nature Photon 7, 363–366 (2013).

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