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Quantum Optics

Quantum optics is the study of radiation and matter in the optical wavelength domain, where tests of fundamental physical questions are under way with unprecedented precision. The University of Rochester has been one of the world's leading centers of quantum optics from the beginning of the field in the 1960's.

At present there are more than a dozen different research groups at the University involved in some aspect of quantum optics. Sophisticated probes of atoms and photons permit new insights into the foundations of quantum mechanics, with a focus on its counter-intuitive, non-local character.

Our research groups are motivated by the realization of futuristic applications, such as quantum computing, crytography and teleportation. They are making exciting advances in laser cooling and trapping and were recognized during the awarding of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics, which was shared by UR alumnus Steven Chu' 70, former US Secretary of Energy.

Department Research

Departmental research in quantum optics spans a wide range of topics:

  • Professor Agrawal's research interests are in the area of theoretical optics, particularly quantum electronics, nonlinear optics, and laser physics. His current research is focused on nonlinear silicon photonics, highly nonlinear fibers, and all-optical signal processing with semiconductor optical amplifiers.
  • The Cooling and Trapping (CAT) Laboratory of Professor Bigelow is focusing on topological excitations of a spinor Bose-Einstein condensate for fundamental understanding and for application to quantum metrology and information. The CAT group also has a leading program on the formation and control of ultra-cold polar molecules. Experimental and theoretical work spans a range of studies of nonlinear atom (and molecular) optics.
  • Professor Boyd is interested in studies of the nonlinear interaction of light with matter, in the use of nonlinear optics to control the group velocity of light, in the development of nanostructured materials with exotic optical properties, in the study of quantum states of light, and in the development of applications of these techniques.
  • Professor Eberly's group is involved in theoretical studies of nonclassical states of radiation, continuous quantum entanglement, optical dark-state solitons, and electron correlation in high-field ionization.
  • Professor Howell's interests are in experimental and theoretical studies of the foundations of quantum mechanics and in quantum information science. His studies include high transverse momentum-position and time-energy entanglement, slow and stopped light, low light level nonlinear optics and weak values.
  • Professor Jordan investigates the quantum theory of dynamics and measurement in condensed matter and optical contexts.  He is involved in research of electron transport and fluctuations in mesoscopic systems, many-body quantum entanglement, quantum thermodynamics, and the foundations of quantum mechanics.
  • Professor Stroud's group carries out theoretical and experimental studies exploring the boundary between classical and quantum mechanics, and the ways in which the phenomena of quantum optics can lead to practical device applications.
  • Professor Wolf and his research group carry out investigations chiefly in the theories of coherence and polarization of light, in inverse scattering, and are also developing a theory for determining phases of diffracted beams in X-ray crystallography. 

Quantum Optics Links