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Freezing coherent field growth in a cavity by the quantum zeno effect

Bernu, J. and Deleglise, S. and Sayrin, C. and Kuhr, S. and Dotsenko, I. and Brune, M. and Raimond, J. M. and Haroche, S. (2008) Freezing coherent field growth in a cavity by the quantum zeno effect. Physical Review Letters, 101 (18). ISSN 0031-9007

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We have frozen the coherent evolution of a field in a cavity by repeated measurements of its photon number. We use circular Rydberg atoms dispersively coupled to the cavity mode for an absorption-free photon counting. These measurements inhibit the growth of a field injected in the cavity by a classical source. This manifestation of the quantum Zeno effect illustrates the backaction of the photon number determination onto the field phase. The residual growth of the field can be seen as a random walk of its amplitude in the two-dimensional phase space. This experiment sheds light onto the measurement process and opens perspectives for active quantum feedback.