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The study of atom-light interaction is a key element of quantum optics and a central part of atomic physics. Systems composed of atoms interacting with each other through the electromagnetic field can be used for studies from fundamental research to practical applications. Experimental realizations of these systems benefit from three distinct attributes: large atom-light coupling, trapping and control of atomic ensembles, and engineering and manipulation of the electromagnetic field. Optical waveguides provide a platform that achieves these three goals. In particular, optical nanofibers are an excellent candidate. They produce a high confinement of the electromagnetic field that improves atom-light coupling, guiding the field that mediates the interactions between atoms, while allowing trapping of the atoms close to it.

This thesis describes the uses of an optical nanofiber for quantum optics experiments, demonstrating its possibilities for enabling special atom-light interactions. We trap atoms near the optical nanofiber surface, and characterize the trap in a non-destructive manner. We show how the presence of the nanofiber modifies the fundamental atomic property of spontaneous emission, by altering the electromagnetic environment of the atom. Finally, we use the nanofiber to prepare collective states of atoms around it. These states can radiate faster or slower than a single atom (superradiance and subradiance). The observation of subradiance of a few atoms, a rather elusive effect, evidences nanofibers as a strong candidate for future quantum optics experiments. Moreover, we show how the guided field mediates interaction between atoms hundreds of wavelengths apart, creating macroscopically delocalized collective states.