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Dr. Barak Dayan: "I want to learn how to control single photons in the way we control electrons today. Once we can do that, the fields of computing and communication will make a leap to the quantum world, bringing within our reach the vast possibilities offered by its unique and fascinating rules."
"Spooky action at a distance" is how Einstein referred to one of the most striking principles of quantum theory – entanglement. Einstein was famously unhappy with this aspect of quantum mechanics, in which particles can be linked together – a change in one is accompanied by an instantaneous change in the other, even when they are completely separated in space. It may fly in the face of intuition, but this phenomenon has been observed in recent years in various labs around the world.
The vast potential of quantum entanglement has led in recent years to the rise of a whole scientific field – quantum optics – which promises to revolutionize computing and communication sciences. Dr. Barak Dayan of the Institute's Chemical Physics Department is one of those striving to fulfill this promise.
Dayan explores entangled systems that are composed of single photons (which can carry quantum information) and single atoms (which can perform as "quantum memory" units). His previous research includes some of the first demonstrations of interactions between entangled photons and atoms. In the past few years, Dayan has been involved in developing a unique advanced technology in which single atoms are manipulated with lasers to interact with single photons via micron-size, chip-based optical resonators. Such atom-mediated interactions between photons might, in the future, form the basis of logic gates for powerful quantum computers.