Quantum interface between light and atomic ensembles
During the past decade the interaction of light with multiatom ensembles has attracted much attention as a basic building block for quantum information processing and quantum state engineering. The field started with the realization that optically thick free space ensembles can be efficiently interfaced with quantum optical fields. By now the atomic ensemble-light interfaces have become a powerful alternative to the cavity-enhanced interaction of light with single atoms. Various mechanisms used for the quantum interface are discussed, including quantum nondemolition or Faraday interaction, quantum measurement and feedback, Raman interaction, photon echo, and electromagnetically induced transparency. This review provides a common theoretical frame for these processes, describes basic experimental techniques and media used for quantum interfaces, and reviews several key experiments on quantum memory for light, quantum entanglement between atomic ensembles and light, and quantum teleportation with atomic ensembles. The two types of quantum measurements which are most important for the interface are discussed: homodyne detection and photon counting. This review concludes with an outlook on the future of atomic ensembles as an enabling technology in quantum information processing.