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 World's Smallest Radio Stations: Two Molecules Communicate Via Single Photons

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Date posted: 03/03/2012

We know since the dawn of modern physics that although events in our everyday life can be described by classical physics, the interaction of light and matter is down deep governed by the laws of quantum mechanics. Despite this century-old wisdom, accessing truly quantum mechanical situations remains nontrivial, fascinating and noteworthy even in the laboratory. Recently, interest in this area has been boosted beyond academic curiosity because of the potential for more efficient and novel forms of information processing.

In one of the most basic proposals, a single atom or molecule acts as a quantum bit that processes signals that have been delivered via single photons. In the past twenty years scientists have shown that single molecules can be detected and single photons can be generated. However, excitation of a molecule with a photon had remained elusive because the probability that a molecule sees and absorbs a photon is very small. As a result, billions of photons per second are usually impinged on a molecule to obtain a signal from it.

One common way to get around this difficulty in atomic physics has been to build a cavity around the atom so that a photon remains trapped for long enough times to yield a favorable interaction probability. Scientists at ETH Zurich and Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen have now shown that one can even interact a flying photon with a single molecule. Among many challenges in the way of performing such an experiment is the realization of a suitable source of single photons, which have the proper frequency and bandwidth. Although one can purchase lasers at different colors and specifications, sources of single photons are not available on the market.

See the full Story via external site: www.sciencedaily.com



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