A new system developed by researchers at Australian National University (ANU) uses quantum memory for light more efficiently than similar storage devices. The researchers used a technique they pioneered to stop and control light from a laser, which enabled them to manipulate electrons in a crystal cooled to -270 degrees Celsius. The level of efficiency and accuracy allows the quantum nature of light to be stored, manipulated, and recalled. “Light entering the crystal is slowed all the way to a stop, where it remains until we let it go again,” says lead researcher Morgan Hedges. “When we do let it go, we get out essentially everything that went in as a three-dimensional hologram, accurate right down to the last photon.” The inherent uncertainty in quantum mechanics means some of the information in this light will be lost the moment it is measured. The system is perfect for secure communication because the information could only be read once. The team plans to focus on improving storage times by experimenting with a technique that halted light in a crystal for over a second, which is more than 1,000 times longer than was previously possible.
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