Coherent Interactions in Rare-Earth-Ion-Doped Crystals for Applications in Quantum Information Science
Abstract: This thesis describes investigations of the use of cryogenically cooled rare-earth-ion-doped crystals for quantum information processing and quantum optics. Several aspects of the coherent interaction between light and rare-earth ions in solids are addressed. Quantum information science has given physicists new views of quantum mechanics. The transmission of quantum states has already found practical use and full scale quantum computers may one day perform computations and simulations that would be impossible on a conventional computer. The work presented in this thesis can be seen as a part of a broad effort to learn how to control and manipulate quantum mechanical systems, which will become necessary as science and technology continue to push ever deeper into the nanoscopic world. Coherent radiation, such as laser light, provides us with an ideal tool for these investigations and, along the way, we may also learn more about the quantum nature of light. Rare-earth ions in inorganic crystals have several unusual properties that are interesting for applications within quantum information science, including long coherence times and long-lived ground state sublevels that can be used for storage of quantum and classical information. As part of the work presented in this thesis, new materials have been investigated with respect to these properties, and ways to enhance the useful properties of the materials were explored. In one investigation, the lifetime of information stored in the ground state population distribution of Tm3 ions in YAG was shown to increase by several orders of magnitude with the application of a magnetic field. It is demonstrated how the optical inhomogeneous absorption profile can be prepared, so that the light only interacts with a selected group of ions, absorbing on a specific transition. Narrow absorbing structures, with widths approaching the optical homogeneous linewidth, have been prepared with no absorption in the surrounding spectral interval. This thesis addresses the use of such structures as hardware for quantum bits. Tailored pulses, capable of inducing controlled changes in the quantum states of the ions (qubits), even in the presence of unknown variations of coupling strengths and frequencies, have been realised experimentally and used for multiple transfer of ions between energy levels. Ion-ion interactions, which can be used for performing quantum logic operations, have been investigated in some detail. Techniques for selecting strongly interacting ions, by transferring weakly interacting ions to auxiliary states, have been demonstrated. A scheme for storing the quantum state of light in a solid, using photon-echo-like techniques, is proposed and analysed. In the proposed scheme, an optical wave packet is absorbed and subsequently re-emitted by an inhomogeneous absorption profile, which is tailored and externally controlled by the application of an electric field Additionally, an accumulated photon echo experiment has been performed using faint optical pulses. The experiment can be viewed as a demonstration of delayed self-interference of a single photon and as a demonstration of how a single photon can act as two of the fields in a photon echo process.
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