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All-Optical Switch and Transistor Gated by One Stored Photon

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Science  16 Aug 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6147, pp. 768-770
DOI: 10.1126/science.1238169

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A Single-Photon Gate

A long-standing goal in optics is to produce an all-optical transistor, in which the transmission of a light beam can be controlled by a single photon. Using a system in which a cloud of cesium atoms is coupled to an optical cavity, Chen et al. (p. 768, published online 4 July; see the Perspective by Volz and Rauschenbeutel) were able to control transmission through the optical cavity by exciting the atomic ensemble using a “gate” laser pulse. Just one gate photon stored was sufficient to detune the system and switch the transmission of source photons through the cavity.