News of the WeekQuantum Mechanics

Physicists Tame a Single Photon

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Science  16 Jul 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5426, pp. 307-309
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5426.307

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Achieving the phenomenon known as quantum nondemolition--the repeated measurement of a quantum state without destroying it, as quantum mechanics dictates should be possible--is extremely difficult because of the fragile nature of quantum states. But in this week's issue of Nature, a team of French physicists reports trapping a single photon between spherical niobium mirrors and repeatedly detecting it with a single rubidium atom without destroying it. Physicists have hailed the work as a triumph of quantum measurement.