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Nat Commun. 2013;4:2527. doi: 10.1038/ncomms3527.

Single-photon-level quantum image memory based on cold atomic ensembles.

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Key Laboratory of Quantum Information, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei 230026, China.


A quantum memory is a key component for quantum networks, which will enable the distribution of quantum information. Its successful development requires storage of single-photon light. Encoding photons with spatial shape through higher-dimensional states significantly increases their information-carrying capability and network capacity. However, constructing such quantum memories is challenging. Here we report the first experimental realization of a true single-photon-carrying orbital angular momentum stored via electromagnetically induced transparency in a cold atomic ensemble. Our experiments show that the non-classical pair correlation between trigger photon and retrieved photon is retained, and the spatial structure of input and retrieved photons exhibits strong similarity. More importantly, we demonstrate that single-photon coherence is preserved during storage. The ability to store spatial structure at the single-photon level opens the possibility for high-dimensional quantum memories.

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