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Access to long-term optical memories using photon echoes retrieved from semiconductor spins

Abstract

The ability to store optical information is important for both classical and quantum communication. Achieving this in a comprehensive manner (converting the optical field into material excitation, storing this excitation, and releasing it after a controllable time delay) is greatly complicated by the many, often conflicting, properties of the material. More specifically, optical resonances in semiconductor quantum structures with high oscillator strength are inevitably characterized by short excitation lifetimes (and, therefore, short optical memory). Here, we present a new experimental approach to stimulated photon echoes by transferring the information contained in the optical field into a spin system, where it is decoupled from the optical vacuum field and may persist much longer. We demonstrate this for an n-doped CdTe/(Cd,Mg)Te quantum well, the storage time of which could be increased by more than three orders of magnitude, from the picosecond range up to tens of nanoseconds.

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Figure 1: Scheme of the photon-echo experiment and optical properties of the investigated structure.
Figure 2: Schematic presentation of the main mechanisms responsible for magnetic-field-induced SPE.
Figure 3: Experimental demonstration of magnetic-field-induced long-lived SPE.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank V.S. Zapasskiî for discussions. The Dortmund team acknowledge financial support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, the Bundesministeriuum für Bildung und Forschung (project Q.com-H). The project ‘SPANGL4Q’ acknowledges financial support from the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) programme within the Seventh Framework Programme for Research of the European Commission, under FET-Open grant no. FP7-284743. S.V.P. thanks the Russian Foundation of Basic Research for partial financial support (contract no. 14-02-31735 mol-a). S.V.P. and I.A.Yu. acknowledge partial financial support from the Russian Ministry of Science and Education (contract no. 11.G34.31.0067), SPbU (grants nos. 11.38.67.2012 and 11.38.213.2014) and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (in the framework of the SkolTech/MIT Initiative). I.A.A. and M.B. acknowledge partial financial support from the Russian Ministry of Science and Education (contract no. 14.Z50.31.0021). The research in Poland was partially supported by the National Science Center (Poland) under grants nos. DEC-2012/06/A/ST3/00247 and DEC-2014/ST3/266881.

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L.L., S.V.P., M.S. and I.A.A. performed the experiments and analysed the data. I.A.Y. developed the theoretical model. G.K. and T.W. fabricated the samples. I.A.A., M.B., D.R.Y., S.V.P. and I.A.Y. conceived the idea for the experiment and co-wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to I. A. Akimov.

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Langer, L., Poltavtsev, S., Yugova, I. et al. Access to long-term optical memories using photon echoes retrieved from semiconductor spins. Nature Photon 8, 851–857 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2014.219

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