New Photon Cannon Developed for Future Photonics
Currently most technology relies on electrons for carrying information, but many foresee a future where photons do that job instead. Transitioning from electronics to photonics is not going to be easy though in part because electrons and photons are such different quantum particles. Researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute however have developed a new photon cannon that overcomes one challenge, by producing single photons that travel in one direction.
The reason it is so difficult to produce single photons compared to electrons has to do with the types of particles they are. Electrons are fermions, which cannot group up, while photons are bosons that are very comfortable existing in the same place at the same time. By using a quantum dot, a synthesized semiconductor crystal though, the researchers are able to produce single photons by exciting the dot with a laser. While that addresses the single-photon issue, the photons are only useful if they go in the right direction. To accomplish that, the researchers built the dot in a photonic crystal on a chip, and that crystal forces the photons to go one way.
The resulting photon cannon the researchers built has a 98.4% success rate of producing single photons and having them go where they want to. Now the researchers are working to patent this work and develop high-efficiency prototypes that could see use for encryption and quantum computing.
Source: University of Copenhagen