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2Physics Quote:
"Many of the molecules found by ROSINA DFMS in the coma of comet 67P are compatible with the idea that comets delivered key molecules for prebiotic chemistry throughout the solar system and in particular to the early Earth increasing drastically the concentration of life-related chemicals by impact on a closed water body. The fact that glycine was most probably formed on dust grains in the presolar stage also makes these molecules somehow universal, which means that what happened in the solar system could probably happen elsewhere in the Universe."
-- Kathrin Altwegg and the ROSINA Team

(Read Full Article: "Glycine, an Amino Acid and Other Prebiotic Molecules in Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko"

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Single-Photon Sources Combine High Purity, Indistinguishability and Efficiency All Together

From left to right: Chao-Yang Lu, Jian-Wei Pan, Sven Höfling and Christian Schneider.

Authors: Chao-Yang Lu1, Christian Schneider2, Sven Höfling1,2,3,  Jian-Wei Pan1

1CAS Centre for Excellence and Synergetic Innovation Centre in Quantum Information and Quantum Physics, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, China.
2Technische Physik, Physikalisches Institat and Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen-Center for Complex Material Systems, Universitat Wurzburg, Germany.
3SUPA, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of St. Andrews, UK.

One-sentence summary: A single-photon source has been demonstrated which, for the first time, combines the features of high efficiency and near-perfect levels of purity and indistinguishabilty, opening the way to scalable multi-photon experiments on a semiconductor chip.

Spontaneous parametric down conversion has served as an excellent workhorse for fundamental test of quantum mechanics, quantum teleportation and optical quantum computing [1]. In this nonlinear optics process, the emission of photon pairs is probabilistic (with a probability of p) and inevitably accompanied by higher-order emission events (on the order of p2), which strongly limit the scalability for optical quantum information processing. So far, up to eight-photon entanglement—created from four independent photon pairs—have been demonstrated [2].

Past 2Physics article by Chao-Yang Lu and/or Jian-Wei Pan :
March 22, 2015: "Quantum Teleportation of Multiple Properties of A Single Quantum Particle" by Chao-Yang Lu and Jian-Wei Pan
January 04, 2015: "Achieving 200 km of Measurement-device-independent Quantum Key Distribution with High Secure Key Rate" by Yan-Lin Tang, Hua-Lei Yin, Si-Jing Chen, Yang Liu, Wei-Jun Zhang, Xiao Jiang, Lu Zhang, Jian Wang, Li-Xing You, Jian-Yu Guan, Dong-Xu Yang, Zhen Wang, Hao Liang, Zhen Zhang, Nan Zhou, Xiongfeng Ma, Teng-Yun Chen, Qiang Zhang, Jian-Wei Pan
June 30, 2013: "Quantum Computer Runs The Most Practically Useful Quantum Algorithm" by Chao-Yang Lu and Jian-Wei Pan.

In an attempt to overcome this obstacle, increasing attention has turned to single quantum emitters, such as self-assembled semiconductor quantum dots (QD), trapped atoms or ions, single defects in diamond or monolayer, and single molecules. In the past two decades, although many previous proof-of-principle experiments have established photon antibunching — an unambiguous evidence for single-photon emission, a scalable extension to multiple photonic quantum bits remain elusive.

To be useful for multi-photon applications such as Boson sampling, a perfect single quantum emitters should fulfill the following wish list: (1) High quantum efficiency: The decay of excited states should predominantly result in an emitted photon. (2) Deterministic generation: Upon a pulsed excitation, the source should deterministically emit one photon in a push-button fashion. (3) High purity: The emission should have a vanishing multi-photon probability. (4) High indistinguishability: Individual photons emitted at different trials should be quantum mechanically identical to each other. (5) High collection efficiency: The radiated photons should be extracted with a high efficiency to a single spatial mode.

Past 2Physics article by Sven Höfling :
May 17, 2015: "A Current Out Of Fluctuations" by Pierre Pfeffer, Fabian Hartmann, Sven Höfling, Martin Kamp, Lukas Worschech.

Among the discovered single quantum emitters so far, QDs have the highest quantum efficiency in solid state and narrowest linewidth at cryogenic temperature, and thus are promising as deterministic single-photon emitters. However, despite the extensive efforts, simultaneously fulfilling all the five criteria in the wish list proved challenging. Most previous experiments either relied on non-resonant excitation of a QD-microcavity that degraded the photon purity and indistinguishability [3,4], or used resonant excitation of a QD in a planar cavity that limited the extraction efficiency [5].
Figure 1: (a) Scanning electron microscopy image of a typical QD micropillar. (b) Numerical simulation of the photon emission from the QD-micropillar. (c) The photons collected into the first lens per pulse versus single-photon purity versus pump power.

Recently, the USTC-Wurzburg joint team exploited s-shell pulsed resonant excitation of a Purcell-enhanced QD-micropillar to deterministically generate resonance fluorescence single photons [6] which for the first time combines all the features in the wish list. The experiments were performed on an InAs/GaAs QD embedded inside a 2.5 micron diameter micropillar cavity (see Fig.1a) with a quality factor of 6124 and a Purcell factor of 6.3. Great efforts are made to find a single perfect QD at a sweet point where at 7.8 K the QD is to spatially coupled and spectrally resonant to the micropillar. At pi pulse, we detect 3.7 million single photon counts per second. The overall system efficiency is 4.6%. After correcting for detection efficiency and optical loss, we estimate that 66% of the generated single photons are collected into the first objective lens. Figure 1c summarizes the combined performance of the efficiency and single-photon purity as a function of pump power. It should be noted that the high generation and extraction efficiency are obtained with little compromise of the single-photon purity (g2(0) ≤ 0.009).

The overall system efficiency 4.6% — the highest reported in QDs — can be improved using techniques such as orthogonal excitation and detection of RF, near-unity-efficiency superconducting nanowire single-photon detection, and antireflection coatings of the optical elements. At this stage already, the performance of the single-photon source is already about ten time brighter than the triggered single-photon source used in eight-photon entanglement, but requires a pump power that is 7 orders of magnitude lower.
Figure 2: Quantum interference between two single photons separated by ~13 ns where the photon polarization set at cross (a) and parallel (b). A zoom-in near the zero time delay is shown in (c).

Another crucial demand is that the photons should possess a high degree of indistinguishability. We note that the pulsed resonant excitation is more critically needed for QDs with large Purcell factors where the reduced radiative lifetime approaches the time jitter. The single photons' indistinguishability is tested using two-photon Hong-Ou-Mandel interference. Figure 2a and 2b show histograms of normalized two-photon counts for orthogonal and parallel polarization at an emission time separation of ~13 ns, respectively. An almost vanishing zero-delay peak is observed for two photons with identical polarization (see Fig. 2c for a zoom-in). We obtain a degrees of indistinguishability to be 0.978.

Such a single-photon source can be readily used to perform multi-photon experiments on a solid-state platform. Immediate applications include implementation of Boson sampling [7] — an intermediate quantum computation where it is estimated that with 20-30 single photons one can demonstrate complex tasks that is difficult for classical computers. In addition to the photonic applications, the high-efficiency fluorescence extraction would also allow a fast high-fidelity single-shot readout of single electron spins, and efficiently entangling distant QD spins.

[1] Jian-Wei Pan, Zeng-Bing Chen, Chao-Yang Lu, Harald Weinfurter, Anton Zeilinger, Marek Żukowski, "Multi-photon entanglement and interferometry", Review of Modern Physics, 84, 777–838 (2012). Abstract.
[2] Xing-Can Yao, Tian-Xiong Wang, Ping Xu, He Lu, Ge-Sheng Pan, Xiao-Hui Bao, Cheng-Zhi Peng, Chao-Yang Lu, Yu-Ao Chen, Jian-Wei Pan, "Observation of eight-photon entanglement", Nature Photonics, 6, 225–228 (2012). Abstract.
[3] Charles Santori, David Fattal, Jelena Vučković, Glenn S. Solomon, Yoshihisa Yamamoto, "Indistinguishable photons from a single-photon device", Nature, 419, 594–597 (2002). Abstract.
[4] Stefan Strauf, Nick G. Stoltz, Matthew T. Rakher, Larry A. Coldren, Pierre M. Petroff, Dirk Bouwmeester, "High-frequency single-photon source with polarization control", Nature Photonics, 1, 704 (2007). Abstract.
[5] Yu-Ming He, Yu He, Yu-Jia Wei, Dian Wu, Mete Atatüre, Christian Schneider, Sven Höfling, Martin Kamp, Chao-Yang Lu, Jian-Wei Pan, "On-demand semiconductor single-photon source with near-unity indistinguishability", Nature Nanotechnology, 8, 213–217 (2013). Abstract.
[6] Xing Ding, Yu He, Z.-C. Duan, Niels Gregersen, M.-C. Chen, S. Unsleber, S. Maier, Christian Schneider, Martin Kamp, Sven Höfling, Chao-Yang Lu, Jian-Wei Pan, "On-Demand Single Photons with High Extraction Efficiency and Near-Unity Indistinguishability from a Resonantly Driven Quantum Dot in a Micropillar", Physical Review Letters, 116, 020401 (2016). Abstract.
[7] Scott Aaronson, Alex Arkhipov, The computational complexity of linear optics, Proceedings of the 43rd annual ACM symposium on Theory of computing, 2011, San Jose (ACM, New York, 2011), p. 333. Full Article.

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