Atomic-Vapor-Based High Efficiency Optical Detectors with Photon Number Resolution

Daniel F.V. James, Paul G. Kwiat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability to detect very weak optical fields with high efficiency ([Formula Presented]) and to distinguish the number of photons in a given time interval is a very challenging technical problem with enormous potential payoffs in quantum communications and information processing. We propose to employ an atomic vapor as the active medium, prepared in a specific quantum state using laser radiation. The absorption of a photon will be aided by a dressing laser, and the presence or absence of an excited atom will be detected using the “cycling transition” approach perfected for ion traps. By incorporating an appropriate up-conversion scheme, our method can be applied to a wide variety of optical wavelengths.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number18
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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