Ultralow-power nonlinear optics using metastable xenon in a cavity - Garrett Hickman

Single-photon cross phase shifts and other single-photon nonlinearities have numerous applications in all-optical quantum information processing. Several groups have experimentally achieved single-photon phase shifts on the order of pi. However, nonlinearities weaker than this have important applications as well. We introduce the idea of using metastable xenon gas in a high-finesse cavity to produce weak single-photon nonlinearities. This relatively simple and robust system avoids problems associated with the accumulation of alkali atoms on mirror surfaces, and is capable of approaching the strong coupling regime of cavity quantum electrodynamics. We demonstrate the feasibility of our approach with two proof-of-principle demonstrations, by measuring absorption saturation and cross-phase modulation using a cavity of moderately high finesse F=3,000. We find that the nonlinear effects occur at ultralow input power levels, proving that the presence of the cavity strongly enhances the inherent optical nonlinearities of metastable xenon. We close our discussion by reviewing our recent progress in building an improved cavity system, which is expected to produce enhanced single photon cross phase shifts.