Abstract

We report an experimental demonstration of low-light-level photon switching by quantum interference in laser-cooled Rb87 atoms. A resonant probe pulse with an energy per unit area of one photon per λ22π propagates through the optically thick atoms. Its energy transmittance is greater than 63%, or a loss of less than e1, because of the effect of electromagnetically induced transparency. In the presence of a switching pulse with an energy per unit area of 1.4 photons per λ22π, the energy transmittance of the same probe pulse becomes less than 37%, or e1. This substantial reduction of probe transmittance caused by switching photons may lead to potential applications in single-photon-level nonlinear optics and manipulation of quantum information.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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