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Quantum Photonic Circuit Made with Its Own Light Source

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 12:19PM

Since it was first discovered, quantum mechanics has been an intriguing field and for some time now, people have been trying to envision how it can be used. One possible application is a quantum computer that leverages the unusual and counterintuitive phenomena of quantum mechanics to process data with algorithms traditional computers cannot perform quickly. There are several avenues that can be used to build a quantum computer, and recently researchers at KIT have created something that should dramatically simplify the designs of optical quantum computers.

At the heart of any computer is the medium used to carry information. In modern electronic computers, the charge of electrons is used to store data, but quantum computers have more options available to them. Among these options is photons, the quantum for light, but the catch is that the photons need to be made for a photonic chip to operate on them. Previously this required external laser sources that could take up entire laboratory spaces, but the KIT researchers have succeeded in building a single-photon source into a chip. This is the first time a complete quantum optical structure has been built on a chip. The source is a carbon nanotube, which have been used before because they emit single photons when struck by external lasers. This new design, however, is completely electrical, so the external laser is no longer needed, making it possible to miniaturize the circuit significantly.

For those hoping this means optical quantum computers are just around the corner, sadly, that is not the case. This is a piece of fundamental research showing this is possible, so it will take time to see what, if any practical applications come from it. It is still an important step, but just how large a step and how long until the next one is still to be seen.

Source: Karlsruher Institut für Technologie

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