Optics

Making photons stick around awhile

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Science  22 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6284, pp. 425-426
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6284.425-f

Photons are ideal carriers of information because they are fast, robust, and capable of long-distance travel, which has made optical networks the backbone of the communications industry. But for optical processing purposes, the photons must be slowed down, stored, and manipulated; processes that are not easily done. Microresonators and extra lengths of fiber can create delay lines for the photons but tend to be limited in the extent of the achievable delay. Huet et al. show that, by using slow light effects in an optical microcavity, the lifetime of a photon can be extended to milliseconds. Photons with such ultralong storage times could be important for applications in integrated nanophotonics and optical memory.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, 133902 (2016).

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