Physicists Demonstrate Three-Color Entanglement

October 7, 2009 By Lisa Zyga feature
Scientists have entangled light of three different colors. In the set-up, the optical parametric oscillator (center) is pumped by a coherent light source, producing three light fields of different wavelengths (green, red, and orange arrows). Entanglement is verified using an analysis cavity for each beam, and the golden rings illustrate the tripartite entanglement among the optical fields. Image copyright: A.S. Coelho, et al. Reprinted with permission from AAAS.

( -- For the first time, physicists have demonstrated the quantum entanglement of three light beams, all of different wavelengths. Entanglement of two light beams of different wavelengths has already been demonstrated, but the researchers explain that going beyond two beams is important since three beams can serve as connections at the nodes of a quantum network.

The team of scientists, from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, both in Erlangen, Germany, has published their results in a recent issue of .

“We generate directly a higher order of entanglement among bright beams of light (in general, continuous variable systems), enabling us to entangle light of different colors,” Paulo Nussenzveig of the University of Sao Paulo told

The physicists are working toward the goal of building a quantum information network, in which entangled light beams convey information from one place to another. Although is expected to greatly speed up information processing, currently several technological challenges remain. For instance, quantum resources are fragile and undergo decoherence when interacting with the surrounding environment, which is harmful for applications.

As the physicists explain, a variety of physical systems will likely be combined to perform quantum information tasks. However, since these diverse systems lack a means of connection, they need a way to join together at the nodes of the quantum network. With this problem in mind, the physicists have investigated using different frequencies of light to connect different components of a quantum network.

“The most investigated systems are trapped ions, superconducting flux qubits, , polaritons, and others,” Nussenzveig said. “Most have specific advantages and other disadvantages. In our view, one could envisage applications to start in hybrid systems, taking advantage of the best characteristics of each of these pieces of quantum hardware.“

As Nussenzveig explained, light is the best candidate to convey . However, light-matter information exchange cannot take place for light of any frequency. In general, these material systems interact with light at particular resonance frequencies.

“Let's say we would like to convey the information stored in a collection of rubidium atoms to some far node in a quantum network,” he said. “The atoms interact with light at 780 nm, a wavelength that does not propagate very efficiently through optical fibers. So, we would like to change the of light that will convey the information to 1,550 nm. On the other end, we would like to store the information in a quantum dot, resonant at 800 nm. Three-color entangled light could do that job (not with our present set-up, but it is a proof-of-principle).”

To generate entanglement with three wavelengths (colors) of light, the physicists used an optical parametric oscillator (OPO). The OPO, which consists of a cooled crystal inside a cavity, oscillates at different frequencies, and can convert one input wave into two longer-wavelength output waves in a process called parametric down-conversion.

When the beam reached the OPO, it was converted into two beams, while the original pump beam was recovered after interacting with the crystal inside the cavity. The resulting pair of down-converted modes (twin beams) possessed strong correlations among its two parts, as well as with the mode that gave birth to them. The scientists verified tripartite entanglement among these three light modes, and showed that the wavelengths of the beams could be tuned by constraining the phase variations of the three fields. Here, the wavelengths of the three light beams were 532 nm, 1,062 nm, and 1,066 nm.

When assessing the robustness of the tripartite entanglement, the researchers found that sometimes the light modes quickly become disentangled, an effect reminiscent of so-called entanglement sudden death. This disentanglement could be harmful for quantum communications applications, such as information networks. However, the scientists also found that the effect doesn’t occur for all oscillation frequencies. This interesting result reveals that robustness of entanglement can change, indicating that entangled states are not all of the same nature. The scientists predict that this disentanglement should be observable in other continuous variable systems, and serves as a reminder that much is still unknown about the nature and dynamics of quantum entanglement.

“Most people think that we already know (almost) all there is to know about entanglement of Gaussian states,” Nussenzveig said. “But we've observed two Gaussian states, both presenting tripartite entanglement, which have a different robustness with respect to channel losses. They clearly have different properties: why is that so? How can we tell, beforehand, if a certain Gaussian entangled state will be robust or not? We believe there are still fundamental issues that remain to be understood: the sudden death we observed is an indicator of this necessity.”

More information: A.S. Coelho, et al. “Three-Color .” Science Express. 17 September 2009. 10.1126/science.1178683.

Copyright 2009
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of

Explore further: Entangled Light in Bose-Einstein Condensates

Related Stories

Entangled Light in Bose-Einstein Condensates

April 8, 2009

( -- When physicists entangle light, they usually use nonlinear crystals as the source. However, it’s difficult to control the entanglement generation process in a bulk crystal, and so scientists have been looking ...

Researchers Demonstrate 'Quantum Data Buffering' Scheme

February 12, 2009

( -- Pushing the envelope of Albert Einstein's "spooky action at a distance," known as entanglement, researchers at the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) of the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards ...

Scientists present method for entangling macroscopic objects

October 24, 2006

Building upon recent studies on optomechanical entanglement with lasers and mirrors, a group of scientists has developed a theoretical model using entanglement swapping in order to entangle two micromechanical oscillators. ...

Quantum Communication Over Flawed Networks may be Possible

December 14, 2007

If successfully implemented, quantum communication could be an extremely secure method of transmitting information – but there are major roadblocks to pass. Recently, physicists suggested a way, at least in theory, to overcome ...

Too much entanglement can render quantum computers useless

May 25, 2009

( -- "For certain tasks, quantum computers are more powerful than their classical counterparts. The task to be performed is the same for quantum or classical systems. However, the former ones can do it in a more ...

Recommended for you

Tiny magnetic tremors unlock exotic superconductivity

June 26, 2017

Deep within solids, individual electrons zip around on a nanoscale highway paved with atoms. For the most part, these electrons avoid one another, kept in separate lanes by their mutual repulsion. But vibrations in the atomic ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

2.8 / 5 (6) Oct 07, 2009
This entanglement is going high tech, it has gone from double talk to triple talk with no proof of any viable way of communication. When they can take a photon, split it into two part, turn one part into a pretzel and the other part immediately turns into an anti-pretzel I will become a believer. They have been working on this magic for 70 years so far they have come up with a goose egg.

3 / 5 (2) Oct 07, 2009
the quantum disentanglement reminds me of quantum blinking, maybe some non-blinking crystals could reduce the risk for disentanglement
1 / 5 (1) Oct 07, 2009
lol at the very enlightening image. now i understand what they're talking about.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.