Slow and stopped light systems form an important piece of the photonics puzzle by acting as memory devices. When used with few-photon light levels, these devices are fundamental to applications in quantum information science, quantum computing, and quantum communication. We report on our progress implementing a technique 1 for measuring the quantum state of light that has been stored in a warm-vapor slow-light system. This technique does not require careful mode matching can in fact be used to optimize the measured eld mode without a prior knowledge of the stored light.
Quantum information can be transferred from a beam of light to a cloud of atoms and controllably released at a later time. This process forms the basis of many important quantum memory devices that are fundamental to the future of quantum information science, quantum computing, and quantum communication. Prior experiments have stored light in a variety of systems, including cold atom clouds, warm atomic vapor, solid state materials, and optical fibers. To extend these successful investigations, the goal of our research program is to carry out a full characterization of the quantum states of stored-and-retrieved multimode light.
Photonic circuits require elements that can control optical signals with other optical signals. Ultra-low-light-level operation of all-optical switches opens the possibility of photonic devices that operate in the single-quantum regime, a prerequisite for quantum-photonic devices. We describe a new type of all-optical switch that exploits the extreme sensitivity to small perturbations displayed by instability-generated dissipative optical patterns. Such patterns, when controlled by applied perturbations, enable control of microwatt-power-level output beams by an input beam that is over 600 times weaker. In comparison, essentially all experimental realizations of light-by-light switching have been limited to controlling weak beams with beams of either comparable or higher power, thus limiting their implementation in cascaded switching networks or computation machines. Furthermore, current research suggests that the energy density required to actuate an all-optical switch is of the order of one photon per optical cross section. Our measured switching energy density of ~4.4 × 10<sup>-2</sup> photons per cross section suggests that our device can operate at the single-photon level with modest system improvement.