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Chip stores single photons

  December 22/29, 2008
Come up with a solid material that can store single photons and you're a step closer to memory chips for quantum networks.

Materials that contain the right concentrations of rare earth ions can store the quantum state of a photon at extremely low temperatures and reemit the photon as much as a microsecond later. Rare earth elements are widely used in magnets and superconductors.

Researchers have stored whole light beams in similar solids, and have stored single photons in gases. The new material is another key step toward quantum memory chips, which are the critical component of quantum networks.

Quantum networks would extend the range of theoretically perfectly secure quantum cryptographic systems, and could connect quantum computers. Quantum computers have the potential to perform tasks like cracking secret codes that are beyond the reach of ordinary computers.

Research paper:
A Solid-state Light–Matter Interface at the Single-Photon Level
Nature, December 11, 2008

Researchers' homepage:
Group of Applied Physics, University of Geneva

Related stories and briefs:
Quantum nets advance -- related research

Back to TRN December 22/29, 2008

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