Harmonic oscillators count among the most fundamental quantum systems with important applications in molecular physics, nanoparticle trapping, and quantum information processing. Their equidistant energy level spacing is often a desired feature, but at the same time a challenge if the goal is to deterministically populate specific eigenstates. Here, they show how interference in the transition amplitudes in a bichromatic laser field can suppress the sequential climbing of harmonic oscillator states (Kapitza-Dirac blockade) and achieve selective excitation of energy eigenstates, Schrödinger cat states, and other non-Gaussian states. This technique can transform the harmonic oscillator into a coherent two-level system or be used to build a large-momentum-transfer beam splitter for matter waves. To illustrate the universality of the concept, they discuss feasible experiments that cover many orders of magnitude in mass, from single electrons over large molecules to dielectric nanoparticles.
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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 801110.
ESQ has received funding from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF).