Research ArticlePHYSICS

Fast, noise-free memory for photon synchronization at room temperature

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Science Advances  12 Jan 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 1, eaap8598
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aap8598


Future quantum photonic networks require coherent optical memories for synchronizing quantum sources and gates of probabilistic nature. We demonstrate a fast ladder memory (FLAME) mapping the optical field onto the superposition between electronic orbitals of rubidium vapor. Using a ladder-level system of orbital transitions with nearly degenerate frequencies simultaneously enables high bandwidth, low noise, and long memory lifetime. We store and retrieve 1.7-ns-long pulses, containing 0.5 photons on average, and observe short-time external efficiency of 25%, memory lifetime (1/e) of 86 ns, and below 10−4 added noise photons. Consequently, coupling this memory to a probabilistic source would enhance the on-demand photon generation probability by a factor of 12, the highest number yet reported for a noise-free, room temperature memory. This paves the way toward the controlled production of large quantum states of light from probabilistic photon sources.

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