Strong interactions of single atoms and photons near a dielectric boundary
Cavity quantum electrodynamics provides the setting for quantum control of strong interactions between a single atom and one photon. Many such atom–cavity systems interacting by coherent exchanges of single photons could be the basis for scalable quantum networks. However, moving beyond current proof-of-principle experiments involving just one or two conventional optical cavities requires the localization of individual atoms at distances ≾100nm from a resonator's surface. In this regime an atom can be strongly coupled to a single intracavity photon while at the same time experiencing significant radiative interactions with the dielectric boundaries of the resonator. Here, we report using real-time detection and high-bandwidth feedback to select and monitor single caesium atoms located ~100nm from the surface of a microtoroidal optical resonator. Strong radiative interactions of atom and cavity field probe atomic motion through the evanescent field of the resonator and reveal both the significant role of Casimir–Polder attraction and the manifestly quantum nature of the atom–cavity dynamics.
Additional Information© 2011 Macmillan Publishers Limited. Received 14 July 2010. Accepted 05 October 2010. Published online 21 November 2010. We acknowledge financial support from NSF, DoD NSSEFF programme, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, ARO and IARPA. N.P.S. acknowledges support of the Caltech Tolman Postdoctoral Fellowship. H.L. thanks the Center for the Physics of Information. Toroid fabrication was done in the Kavli Nanoscience Institute. The authors thank A. S. Parkins, J. Ye and P. Zoller for illuminating discussions. Author contributions: T.A. and H.J.K. conceived the experiment. D.J.A. and N.P.S. carried out the measurements, analysed data and implemented simulation modelling. H.L., E.O. and K.J.V. fabricated microtoroids and provided expertise for tapered fibre coupling. D.J.A., N.P.S. and H.J.K. prepared the manuscript.
Submitted - 1011.0740.pdf
Supplemental Material - nphys1837-s1.pdf