Physicists irreversibly split photons by freezing them in Bose-Einstein condensate

Physicists at University of Bonn have succeeded in creating a new one-way street for light. They cool photons down to a Bose-Einstein condensate, which causes the light to collect in optical ‘valleys‘ from which it can no longer return. The findings could also be of interest for the quantum communication of the future.

A light beam is usually divided by being directed onto a partially reflecting mirror: Part of the light is then reflected back to create the mirror image. The rest passes through the mirror. “However, this process can be turned around if the experimental set-up is reversed,” says Prof. Dr. Martin Weitz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Bonn.

The team investigated exotic optical quantum states of light and was looking for a new method to generate optical one-way streets by cooling the photons, using a Bose-Einstein condensate made of photons for this purpose.

The scientists hope that this experimental arrangement will make it possible to produce even more complex quantum states that allow the generation of interlaced photonic multi-particle states. “Perhaps quantum computers might one day use this method to communicate with each other and form a kind of quantum Internet,” says Weitz with a view towards the future. (ScienceDaily)

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