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A quantum logic gate combining light and matter


A single atom is trapped in the narrow gap between two highly reflecting mirrors (light blue) that form an optical resonator. Reflection of single photons from the resonator implements a quantum logic operation between the atom and the photons. (Credit: Andreas Reiserer, MPQ, Quantum Dynamics Division)

Scientists at Max-Planck-Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) have successfully achieved a quantum logic gate using a single photon and a single atom.

In the experiment, described in a Nature paper, the binary states 0 and 1 are represented by the two spin orientations of an atom (upwards or downwards), and by two polarization states of an optical photon (left or right circular), respectively.