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Igor Pikovski shows a novel paradigm for controlling light

14.04.2020 17:24

Branco Weiss Fellow Igor Pikovski, in collaboration with scientists at Harvard University, has shown a novel paradigm for controlling light: a quantum metamaterial consisting of a single surface of atoms. In a paper published recently in Nature Physics, the researchers show how this novel material can change quantum properties of light when it scatters off the quantum metasurface. For example, light interacting with the surface can be reflected and transmitted simultaneously in quantum superposition.

For millennia humanity has been developing tools to control light. From lenses to stealth technology, shaping electromagnetic radiation enabled new applications and insights into our world. In recent years, artificial materials called metamaterials opened new possibilities: By carefully engineering materials on the nano-scale, it became possible to precisely control the phase of light in ways that do not occur in nature. This enabled entirely new applications, such as lenses with a negative index of refraction or even invisibility cloaks. The new work by Pikovski and his collaborators elevates this concept into the quantum realm: a way to change quantum properties of light as it propagates through the material.

For their study, the researchers combined a recent discovery of how a single sheet of atoms can reflect light with quantum control techniques used in quantum computing architectures. The team analyzed such a material and how it can be realized in the laboratory. “We can control the quantum states of individual atoms. A quantum metasurface leverages this ability to create quantum states of light as it is reflected and transmitted through the material”, says Dr. Igor Pikovski. “Such a material offers a new platform for quantum computation and quantum simulation with light.”

See the paper in Nature Physics