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Science  31 Aug 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6098, pp. 1021
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6098.1021-a

Optical fibers provide the backbone of modern communication networks, with information encoded in the wavelength and polarization states of light pulses that each contain billions of photons. Higher data transmission rates, as well as more secure communication afforded by fundamental laws of quantum mechanics, will require the use of single photons as the information carriers. However, because the emission of single photons from quantum emitters such as quantum dots is generally directionally random, getting the single photons into the fiber remains an engineering challenge. Yalla et al. present a relatively simple solution in the form of a tapered optic fiber—a standard optic fiber that has been heated locally and stretched so that it is thinner along one part. They place several quantum dots along the tapered section of the fiber, excite them with an external laser source to emit single photons, and then show that the coupling of the single photons into the fiber can be as high as 20%. Configuring the structure of the tapered fiber provides a flexible route to optimizing the efficient channeling of single photons for communication applications.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 63602 (2012).

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