We present a series of coherent nonlinear optical experiments that show semiconductor quantum dots have optical properties very similar to simple atomic systems but are surprisingly robust against decoherence and have large dipole moments. By combining advances in nano-optical probing methodologies with the power of coherent nonlinear optical spectroscopy techniques, the measurements have enabled us to extend concepts of coherent optical control and wave function engineering to a single quantum dot exciton.

© 2002 Optical Society of America

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