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Superconducting Quantum Optics
The coherence properties of superconducting circuits enable them to be developed as qubits in quantum information processing applications. Astafiev et al. (p. 840) now show that these macroscopic superconducting devices also behave as artificial atoms and can exhibit quantum optical effects. The ability to fabricate and integrate these superconducting devices in electronic circuitry may help toward developing a fully controlled quantum optics system on a chip.
An atom in open space can be detected by means of resonant absorption and reemission of electromagnetic waves, known as resonance fluorescence, which is a fundamental phenomenon of quantum optics. We report on the observation of scattering of propagating waves by a single artificial atom. The behavior of the artificial atom, a superconducting macroscopic two-level system, is in a quantitative agreement with the predictions of quantum optics for a pointlike scatterer interacting with the electromagnetic field in one-dimensional open space. The strong atom-field interaction as revealed in a high degree of extinction of propagating waves will allow applications of controllable artificial atoms in quantum optics and photonics.