Quantum nonlinear optics with Rydberg polaritons
Realizing and engineering optical non-linearity at the level of single photons is a goal of scientific and technological significance. We obtain strong interactions between propagating photons by coherently coupling them to Rydberg atoms in a cold gas. While slowly traversing the medium, the "Rydberg polaritons” interact via the Van-der-Waals force, owing to their large electric dipole-moment. We are able to vary the dynamics of the two-photon wavefunction from dispersive (Schrodinger-like) to dissipative (diffusion-like) and observe strong bunching, anti-bunching, and a conditional phase-shifts of 1 radian for two individual photons.
Host: Alexey Gorshkov