A single cesium atom trapped within the mode of an optical cavity is used to generate single photons on demand. The photon wave packets are emitted as a Gaussian beam with temporal profile and repetition rate controlled by external driving fields. Each generation attempt is inferred to succeed with a probability near unity, whereas the efficiency for creating an unpolarized photon in the total cavity output is 0.69 ± 0.10, as limited by passive cavity losses. An average of 1.4 × 104 photons are produced by each trapped atom. These results constitute an important step in quantum information science, for example, toward the realization of distributed quantum networking.
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