Interfacing Atoms and Light—The Smaller the Stronger

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Science  07 Jun 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6137, pp. 1175-1176
DOI: 10.1126/science.1239500

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Most of us use the Internet to exchange information in everyday life. The ever-increasing rate at which Internet connections transmit data requires faster and faster conversion of local information into signals that can be easily transmitted over long distances. For example, the information sent by your computer is converted from electronic signals into optical signals, which are then sent through a network of optical fibers. Without the reliable and high-speed conversion of information from electronic to optical form, modern communication would not be possible. With the emergence of quantum technologies, most notably quantum information technology, the way we communicate is about to change fundamentally. On page 1202 of this issue, Thompson et al. (1) describe a system that has the potential to become an interface between atoms and optical signals and provide local information storage and transmission in the quantum domain.