Research ArticlePHOTONS

Optical π phase shift created with a single-photon pulse

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Science Advances  29 Apr 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 4, e1600036
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1600036


A deterministic photon-photon quantum logic gate is a long-standing goal. Building such a gate becomes possible if a light pulse containing only one photon imprints a phase shift of π onto another light field. We experimentally demonstrate the generation of such a π phase shift with a single-photon pulse. A first light pulse containing less than one photon on average is stored in an atomic gas. Rydberg blockade combined with electromagnetically induced transparency creates a phase shift for a second light pulse, which propagates through the medium. We measure the π phase shift of the second pulse when we postselect the data upon the detection of a retrieved photon from the first pulse. This demonstrates a crucial step toward a photon-photon gate and offers a variety of applications in the field of quantum information processing.

  • Quantum photonics
  • Rydberg atoms

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