I’m pleased to announce that my research group has been awarded a second NSF RUI grant to further support our research. The RUI (research at undergraduate institutions) program specifies resources for scientific research at colleges like Pacific and is a valuable funding mechanism for science research at smaller colleges. I feel very fortunate to continue to offer summer research opportunities to undergraduates for at least the next three years. Below is the public abstract that is posted on the NSF website.
As electronic devices reach their maximum processing speeds, the demand for high speed internet communications and data networks will require new technologies for storing and processing large amounts of data. Electronics are built on the use of the electron to carry and process information and in an analogous way the field of photonics is developing devices that use particles of light called photons to carry and process information. Individual photons obey the laws of quantum mechanics, so in order to fully understand the operation of photonic devices, quantum measurements must be performed on these new devices. One particularly essential component is a memory or information storage device. Many candidates for photonic memory exist but few have been characterized at the quantum (few-photon) level. This research program will apply new techniques for measuring the quantum properties of light to a variety of photonic memory devices. The result will be a deeper understanding of device operation that will lead to optimized devices for future applications.Photonic memory devices have been demonstrated using slow and stored-light protocols based on electromagnetic-induced transparency (EIT) in Rubidium. The goal of this program is to measure the quantum state of light retrieved from several implementations of these devices in both warm and cold Rubidium vapor samples. The light stored and retrieved from such systems will be measured and analyzed using a highly efficient array of low-noise photodetectors. This technique can simultaneously measure multiple optical modes and will be used to correlate multiple modes and determine which modes (or combinations of modes) are most robust under different storage conditions. A full quantum-mechanical understanding of the optical signal retrieved from memory allows complete characterization of the device performance and will inform future work in the development of photonic memory devices.