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Coherent control of optical information with matter wave dynamics

The invention is a technique for stopping light pulses, converting them to matter, and then transporting them to another location. A laser pulse is sent toward one Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) – a collection of atoms cooled to nearly absolute zero – where it is stopped and then stored. The light is converted to a traveling matter wave, sent some distance away to another BEC and the light pulse is revived at the second location. Effectively, the laser pulse is extinguished in one location and then a perfect copy is resurrected in another location. During the process, the light pulse is slowed from 186,000 miles per second to just 15 miles per hour – the speed of a bicycle.

Intellectual Property Status: U.S. Patent(s) Issued: 8,299,419


Possible applications include quantum information processing, manipulation and storage of light pulses from optical fibers, atomic clocks, gravity detectors, ultra-sensitive acceleration and rotation instruments, as well as enabling other technologies involving light-matter interactions. Upon its announcement, this discovery generated international press coverage for its novelty.

Additional Information

  • Publication

    "Coherent control of optical information with matter wave dynamics," Naomi S. Ginsberg, Sean R. Garner & Lene Vestergaard Hau. Nature 445, 623–626 (08 February 2007).

  • Media Coverage - New York Times

    "Wizardry at Harvard: Physicists Move Light," New York Times, Feb. 8, 2007.

  • Media Coverage - Nature News & Views

    "Quantum physics: Indistinguishable from afar," Nature News & Views, Feb. 7, 2007.