Coupling a Single Trapped Atom to a Nanoscale Optical Cavity

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Science  07 Jun 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6137, pp. 1202-1205
DOI: 10.1126/science.1237125

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Trapped and Coupled

Trapped single atoms are ideal for storing and manipulating quantum information. Thompson et al. (p. 1202, published online 25 April; see the Perspective by Keller) were able to control single atoms interacting coherently with a field mode of a photonic crystal cavity. An optical tweezer was used to trap the single atom, which enabled positioning of the atom in close proximity to the photonic crystal waveguide, coupling the atom to the optical mode of the cavity. Such coupling should prove useful in quantum measurement, sensing, and information processing.


Hybrid quantum devices, in which dissimilar quantum systems are combined in order to attain qualities not available with either system alone, may enable far-reaching control in quantum measurement, sensing, and information processing. A paradigmatic example is trapped ultracold atoms, which offer excellent quantum coherent properties, coupled to nanoscale solid-state systems, which allow for strong interactions. We demonstrate a deterministic interface between a single trapped rubidium atom and a nanoscale photonic crystal cavity. Precise control over the atom's position allows us to probe the cavity near-field with a resolution below the diffraction limit and to observe large atom-photon coupling. This approach may enable the realization of integrated, strongly coupled quantum nano-optical circuits.

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