Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated* for the first time the conversion of near-infrared 1,300 nm wavelength single photons emitted from a true quantum source, a semiconductor quantum dot, to a near-visible wavelength of 710 nm. The ability to change the color of single photons may aid in the development of hybrid quantum systems for applications in quantum communication, computation and metrology.
Two important resources for quantum information processing are the transmission of data encoded in the quantum state of a photon and its storage in long-lived internal states of systems like trapped atoms, ions or solid-state ensembles. Ideally, one envisions devices that are good at both generating and storing photons. However, this is challenging in practice because while typical quantum memories are suited to absorbing and storing near-visible photons, transmission is best accomplished at near-infrared wavelengths where information loss in telecommunications optical fibers is low.
To satisfy these two conflicting requirements, the NIST team combined a fiber-coupled single photon source with a frequency up-conversion single photon detector. Both developed at NIST, the frequency up-conversion detector uses a strong pump laser and a special non-linear crystal to convert long wavelength (low frequency) photons into short wavelength (high frequency) photons with high efficiency and sensitivity (http://www.nist.gov/itl/antd/nir_082509.cfm).
According to Matthew Rakher and Kartik Srinivasan, two authors of the paper, previous up-conversion experiments looked at the color conversion of highly attenuated laser beams that contained less than one photon on average. However, these light sources still exhibited "classical" photon statistics exactly like that of an unattenuated laser, meaning that the photons are organized in such as way
|Contact: Mark Esser|
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)