Scientists create photonic optical switch utilizing single atom

11/05/2013 - 00:00

Quantum scientists over the past two decades have dreamt of realizing powerful new information technologies that exploit the laws of quantum mechanics in their operation. While many approaches are being pursued, a prevailing choice consists of using single atoms and particles of light—single photons—as the fundamental building blocks of these technologies [1]. 

In this paradigm, one envisions that single atoms naturally act as quantum processors that produce and interface with single photons, while the photons naturally act as wires to carry information between processors. Reporting in Physical Review Letters, researchers at the Vienna University of Technology, Austria, have taken an important step forward in this pursuit, by experimentally demonstrating a microphotonic optical switch that is regulated by just a single atom [2].