Atomic ping-pong with photons is possible
| Astronomy/Physics

Atoms can absorb light and re-emit it. However, these absorbed photons are usually emitted in all possible directions. Scientists from the University of Technology Vienna have proven theoretically that using lenses it is possible to create a situation in which a photon emitted by an atom will reach a second atom, where it will be absorbed and then emitted to the first atom. In this way The atoms will transmit the photon to each other with extraordinary precision.

Oliver Dieckmann/TU Vienna

If an atom emits a photon somewhere in space, the direction of the emission is completely random, so it is almost impossible for an atom located somewhere in space to intercept that photon. A photon propagates as a wave, which means that no one can determine exactly in which direction it propagates. Only by chance can it reach the second atomProfessor Stefan Rutter says.

But the situation may change because the experiment on atoms and photons will be carried out in a closed environment. Scientists from Austria cite the example of the Whisper Gallery, which are often spherical or elliptical structures, where two people – placed in specific places – can communicate in whispers over long distances. Something similar to light can be created by placing two atoms at the appropriate points on an ellipse. But in practice, these atoms must be placed at these points with extreme precision“, explains Oliver Diekmann, lead author of the article published in Physical review letters.

The Austrians decided to develop a better strategy that would enable the transfer of photons between atoms. They used fisheye lenses in their considerations. thanks to them It is possible for all the rays emitted by one atom to reach the edge of the lens along a curved path, where they will be reflected and reach the target atom along a different curved pathDiekmann says. We have shown that the coupling between an atom and several free vibrations of an optical field can be used in such a way that a photon can be precisely directed from one atom to another.Professor Rutter adds.

Scientists from Vienna conducted theoretical evidence, but they confirm that it is possible to test it using currently available technologies. In practice, the efficiency of such a system can be increased by using two groups of atoms, not just two. Experiments of this kind may serve as interesting starting points for quantum control systems to study the interactions of light and matterRutter confirms.

Atomic ping-pong with photons is possible

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