QUANTUM OPTICS

To catch a photon nondestructively

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Science  05 Feb 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6273, pp. 572
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6273.572-b

With several techniques now available for generating single photons, coupled with their relative robustness and ability to be transmitted long distances, photons are ideal carriers of quantum information. However, determining the best methodol-ogy for detecting a single propagating photon without absorbing it (and destroying it) remains a work in progress. Xia et al. propose a cavity-free approach based on an induced nonlinear interaction. By co-propagating a weak probe beam with the signal beam containing the single photon in a nonlinear medium, they show theoretically that the phase of the probe beam should be shifted, conditional on the presence of the single photon. The proposed technique could offer a simpler route for implementing such quantum non-demolition detection strategies necessary for successful quantum information processing.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, 023601 (2016).

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