Dynamical observations of self-stabilizing stationary light


The precise control of atom–light interactions is vital to many quantum technologies. For instance, atomic systems can be used to slow and store light, acting as a quantum memory. Optical storage can be achieved via stopped light, where no optical energy continues to exist in the atomic system, or as stationary light, where some optical energy remains present during storage. Here, we demonstrate a form of self-stabilizing stationary light. From any initial state, our atom–light system evolves to a stable configuration that may contain bright optical excitations trapped within the atomic ensemble. This phenomenon is verified experimentally in a cloud of cold Rb87 atoms. The spinwave in our atomic cloud is imaged from the side, allowing direct comparison with theoretical predictions.

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Figure 1: The simplified level scheme and theoretical predictions.
Figure 2: The experimental schematic for the SL pulse generation in an ensemble of cold 87Rb atoms.
Figure 3: Stationary light results.


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We thank A. Sørensen and J. Ott for helpful discussions regarding the treatment of multiple control fields. Our work was funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) (CE110001027, FL150100019) and Y.-W.C. was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) (2014R1A6A3A03056704).

Author information

The theory in this paper was developed by J.L.E., G.T.C., Y.-W.C., P.V.-G., D.B.H. and O.P. The experiment was designed and carried out by J.L.E., G.T.C., Y.-W.C. and N.P.R. Results were analysed by J.L.E., G.T.C., Y.-W.C. and B.C.B. The paper was written by B.C.B., G.T.C., J.L.E., P.V.-G. and P.K.L.

Correspondence to B. C. Buchler.

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Everett, J., Campbell, G., Cho, Y. et al. Dynamical observations of self-stabilizing stationary light. Nature Phys 13, 68–73 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphys3901

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