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Spectral hole burning and its application in microwave photonics


Spectral hole burning, used in inhomogeneously broadened emitters, is a well-established optical1 technique, with applications from spectroscopy to slow light2 and frequency combs3. In microwave photonics4, electron spin ensembles5,6 are candidates for use as quantum memories7 with potentially long storage times8. Here, we demonstrate long-lived collective dark states9 by spectral hole burning in the microwave regime10. The coherence time in our hybrid quantum system (nitrogen–vacancy centres strongly coupled to a superconducting microwave cavity) becomes longer than both the ensemble's free-induction decay and the bare cavity dissipation rate. The hybrid quantum system thus performs better than its individual subcomponents. This opens the way for long-lived quantum multimode memories, solid-state microwave frequency combs, spin squeezed states11, optical-to-microwave quantum transducers12 and novel metamaterials13. Beyond these, new cavity quantum electrodynamics experiments will be possible where spin–spin interactions and many-body phenomena14 are directly accessible.

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Figure 1: Experimental set-up.
Figure 2: Visualization of engineered collective dark states.
Figure 3: Spectral hole burning, dark state spectroscopy and dark state dynamics.
Figure 4: Engineering of multiple dark states.


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The authors thank A. Ardavan, B. Hartl, G. Kirchmair, K. Nemoto, H. Ritsch and M. Trupke for helpful discussions. The experimental effort led by J.M. was supported by the Top-/Anschubfinanzierung grant of TU Wien. S.P. and A.A. acknowledge support from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) in the framework of the Doctoral School ‘Building Solids for Function’ Project W1243. D.O.K. and S.R. acknowledge funding by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) through the Spezialforschungsbereich (SFB) NextLite Project No. F49-P10.

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S.P., A.A., J.S. and J.M. designed and set up the experiment. A.A. and R.G. carried out the measurements under the supervision of S.P. and J.M. D.O.K. and S.R. devised the theoretical framework and, together with W.J.M., provided the theoretical support for modelling the experiment. S.P. wrote the manuscript and all authors suggested improvements.

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Correspondence to Stefan Putz or Johannes Majer.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Putz, S., Angerer, A., Krimer, D. et al. Spectral hole burning and its application in microwave photonics. Nature Photon 11, 36–39 (2017).

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