We present a proposal for entanglement purification of the continuous-variable quantum state of two propagating optical fields. The scheme is based on each field interacting with a local node-atomic ensemble whose internal collective excitation plays the role of an ancillary continuous-variable resource. Entanglement purification is achieved by a dichotomic measurement, representing the required non-Gaussian element, which consists of detecting the presence or absence of collective excitations in the atomic ensemble. This scheme can be extended to networks, where the nodes are single trapped atoms, and constitutes an important building block for the implementation of a continuous-variable quantum repeater.
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