We report an experimental demonstration of low-light-level photon switching by quantum interference in laser-cooled 87Rb atoms. A resonant probe pulse with an energy per unit area of one photon per λ2/2π propagates through the optically thick atoms. Its energy transmittance is greater than 63%, or a loss of less than e-1, 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 λ2/ 2π, the energy transmittance of the same probe pulse becomes less than 37%, or e-1. 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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics