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Extraction of a single photon from an optical pulse


Removing a single photon from a pulse is one of the most elementary operations that can be performed on light, having both fundamental significance1,2 and practical applications in quantum communication3,4,5,6,7,8,9 and computation10. So far, photon subtraction, in which the removed photon is detected and therefore irreversibly lost, has been implemented in a probabilistic manner with inherently low success rates using low-reflectivity beam splitters1. Here we demonstrate a scheme for the deterministic extraction of a single photon from an incoming pulse. The removed photon is diverted to a different mode, enabling its use for other purposes, such as a photon number-splitting attack on quantum key distribution protocols11. Our implementation makes use of single-photon Raman interaction (SPRINT)12,13 with a single atom near a nanofibre-coupled microresonator. The single-photon extraction probability in our current realization is limited mostly by linear loss, yet probabilities close to unity should be attainable with realistic experimental parameters13.

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Figure 1: Schematic depiction of single-photon Raman interaction (SPRINT).
Figure 2: Experimental results of single-photon extraction.
Figure 3: Nonclassical temporal correlations between the reflected and transmitted pulses.


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Support from the Israeli Science Foundation, the Joseph and Celia Reskin Career Development Chair in Physics, and the Crown Photonics Center is acknowledged. This research was made possible in part by the historic generosity of the Harold Perlman family.

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All authors contributed to the design, construction and carrying out of the experiment, discussed the results and commented on the manuscript. S.R., O.B. and I.S. analysed the data and performed the simulations. S.R., O.B. and B.D. wrote the manuscript. S.R. and O.B. contributed equally to this work.

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Correspondence to Barak Dayan.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Rosenblum, S., Bechler, O., Shomroni, I. et al. Extraction of a single photon from an optical pulse. Nature Photon 10, 19–22 (2016).

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