Rolling Out Single Photons

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Science  20 Jun 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5883, pp. 1564
DOI: 10.1126/science.320.5883.1564a

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have been studied exhaustively in terms of electronic and mechanical properties. A large repertoire of potential applications has been demonstrated for these one-dimensional systems of rolled-up sheets of carbon. To date, most of the optical studies on CNTs have focused more on characterization. Högele et al. now show that CNTs exhibit quantum optical behavior. Photons, being bosons, like to bunch together. However, in quantum systems such as atoms and artificial atoms, the confinement of carriers can split the pack behavior, resulting in the photons being emitted one at a time. For applications such as ultrasecure communication, such antibunching behavior is desirable. These authors excite a single CNT with a laser pulse and observe that light is emitted as single photons upon relaxation. The results suggest that CNTs may extend their repertoire beyond logic circuits and other electronic devices, finding application in quantum optoelectronics. — ISO

Phys. Rev. Lett. 100, 217401 (2008).

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