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Phys Rev Lett. 2005 Mar 25;94(11):113601. Epub 2005 Mar 24.

Nondestructive Rydberg atom counting with mesoscopic fields in a cavity.

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  • 1Laboratoire Kastler Brossel, DĂ©partement de Physique de l'Ecole Normale SupĂ©rieure, 24 rue Lhomond, F-75231 Paris CEDEX 05, France.


We present an efficient, state-selective, nondemolition atom-counting procedure based on the dispersive interaction of a sample of circular Rydberg atoms with a mesoscopic field contained in a high-quality superconducting cavity. The state-dependent atomic index of refraction, proportional to the atom number, shifts the classical field phase. A homodyne procedure translates the information from the phase to the intensity. The final field intensity is readout by a mesoscopic atomic sample. This method opens promising routes for quantum information processing and nonclassical state generation with Rydberg atoms.

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