Summary: A team from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has conducted a series of experiments to gain a better understanding of quantum mechanics and pursue advances in quantum networking and quantum computing
Original author and publication date: Oak Ridge National Laboratory – January 23, 2020
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: The experiments at the ORNL and other organizations led to “unanticipated findings” in the area of quantum mechanics, opening the possibility of ” transmitting vast amounts of information at unprecedented speeds.” The future is here.
From the article:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) quantum researchers Joseph Lukens, Pavel Lougovski, Brian Williams, and Nicholas Peters—along with collaborators from Purdue University and the Technological University of Pereira in Colombia—summarized results from several of their recent academic papers in a special issue of the Optical Society’s Optics & Photonics News, which showcased some of the most significant results from optics-related research in 2019. Their entry was one of 30 selected for publication from a pool of 91.
Conventional computer “bits” have a value of either 0 or 1, but quantum bits, called “qubits,” can exist in a superposition of quantum states labeled 0 and 1. This ability makes quantum systems promising for transmitting, processing, storing, and encrypting vast amounts of information at unprecedented speeds.
To study photons—single particles of light that can act as qubits—the researchers employed light sources called quantum optical frequency combs that contain many precisely defined wavelengths. Because they travel at the speed of light and do not interact with their environment, photons are a natural platform for carrying quantum information over long distances.
Interactions between photons are notoriously difficult to induce and control, but these capabilities are necessary for effective quantum computers and quantum gates, which are quantum circuits that operate on qubits. Nonexistent or unpredictable photonic interactions make two-photon quantum gates much more difficult to develop than standard one-photon gates, but the researchers reached several major milestones in recent studies that addressed these challenges.
For example, they made adjustments to existing telecommunications equipment used in optics research to optimize them for quantum photonics. Their results revealed new ways to use these resources for both traditional and quantum communication.
“Using this equipment to manipulate quantum states is the technological underpinning of all these experiments, but we did not expect to be able to move in the other direction and improve classical communication by working on quantum communication,” Lukens said. “These interesting and unanticipated findings have appeared as we delve deeper into this research area.”