Ultrafast optical control by few photons in engineered fiber

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Science  25 Jul 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6195, pp. 417-419
DOI: 10.1126/science.1253125

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Toward the control of light with light

Optic fibers form the backbone of the communications sector and carry huge amounts of data around the globe. Nissim et al. show that small perturbations within the core of a fiber give rise to interactions between photons. The strength of the interaction could be controlled by carefully characterizing and splicing together different lengths of fiber. The interactions between the photons were enhanced so that a strong signal beam could be switched off with just a few photons.

Science, this issue p. 417


Fast control of a strong optical beam by a few photons is an outstanding challenge that limits the performance of quantum sensors and optical processing devices. We report that a fast and efficient optical gate can be realized in an optical fiber that has been engineered with molecular-scale accuracy. Highly efficient, distributed phase-matched photon-photon interaction was achieved in the fiber with locally controlled, nanometer-scale core variations. A three-photon input was used to manipulate a Watt-scale beam at a speed exceeding 500 gigahertz. In addition to very fast beam control, the results provide a path to developing a new class of sensitive receivers capable of operating at very high rates.

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