Recent experimental advances in preparing regular defect-free 2D arrays of atoms with optical traps have offered new opportunities to engineer strong collective couplings between light and atoms as quantum optical dipoles. Applications of such collective light-matter interactions include the realization of atom-thick mirrors, retrieval of quantum memories with high efficiency, or the implementation of topological quantum optics. I will present novel applications in the context of quantum networking.
First, I will discuss the design of a chiral photonic quantum link, where distant single atoms interact by exchanging photons propagating in a unique direction in free space. This is achieved by coupling both single atoms, representing qubits implemented using a pair of Rydberg states, to bi-layer atomic arrays which act as quantum phased-array antennas. Exploiting the combination of a “Rydberg-dressing” laser and a control laser driving the atomic arrays, an effective Rydberg dipole-dipole interaction can be engineered between atoms and atomic arrays as quantum emitters, allowing to match the spatial modes of spontaneously emitted and absorbed photons to a Gaussian mode of interest. In this way, we realize a chiral quantum interface, i.e., where atoms couple to photonic modes with a unique direction of propagation.
This setup provides a basic building block of a novel platform for quantum networks in free space, i.e., without requiring coupling atoms to modes of cavities or nanostructures, which I will illustrate with the deterministic coherent transfer of quantum states between single atoms with high fidelity.
Second, I will discuss the collective radiation properties of two distant single-layer atomic arrays acting as quantum memories. This system can support a long-lived non-local superposition state of atomic excitations exhibiting strong subradiance. This “dark” mode consists of an atomic excitation which is delocalized between the two distant atomic arrays, in such a way that the overall radiation is strongly suppressed by quantum interference. I will describe the preparation of these states and their application as resource of non-local entanglement. In particular, by weakly driving the arrays, the state of the quantum memories, localized in each array, can be transferred to this “non-local” subradiant state, allowing again for a deterministic coherent quantum state transfer with high fidelity between the memories. Finally, I will discuss experimental realizations using cold atoms in optical trap arrays, and the effect of experimental imperfections in the arrays, such as finite defect probability, temperature, and depth of the optical traps.