Quantum physics : The perfect couple (pp 268-271 ; 272-276)

Le 8 novembre 2007

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Understanding the interaction between light and matter, and using it for quantum applications, is a step closer, thanks to two papers in Nature this week.

Cavity quantum electrodynamics uses trapped atoms in an enclosed field region to enhance this interaction at a microscopic level. Previous studies have demonstrated so-called ’strong coupling’, a regime in which the radiative properties of individual atoms are intimately linked to the state of the optical field in the cavity.

Two teams led by Tilman Esslinger and Jakob Reichel now add a new ingredient to cavity quantum electrodynamics — the atoms are cooled to form a special state known as a Bose–Einstein condensate, which
causes them to interact with the light field in an identical manner. This may open the way for applications in quantum communication and information
processing.

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