Scientists and engineers from an international collaboration led by Dr Mark Thompson from the University of Bristol have, for the first time, generated and manipulated single particles of light (photons) on a silicon chip – a major step forward in the race to build a quantum computer.
Quantum computers and quantum technologies in general are widely anticipated as the next major technology advancement, and are poised to replace conventional information and computing devices in applications ranging from ultra-secure communications and high-precision sensing to immensely powerful computers. While many of the components for a quantum computer already exist, for a quantum computer to be realised, these components need to be integrated onto a single chip.
Featuring today on the front cover of Nature Photonics, this latest advancement is one of the important pieces in the jigsaw needed in order to realise a quantum computer. While previous attempts have required external light sources to generate the photons, this new chip integrates components that can generate photons inside the chip. "We were surprised by how well the integrated sources performed together," admits Joshua Silverstone, lead author of the paper. "They produced high-quality identical photons in a reproducible way, confirming that we could one day manufacture a silicon chip with hundreds of similar sources on it, all working together. This could eventually lead to an optical quantum computer capable of perform enormously complex calculations."
"Single-photon detectors, sources and circuits have all been developed separately in silicon but putting them all together and integrating them on a chip is a huge challenge," explains group leader Mark Thompson. "Our device is the most functionally complex photonic quantum circuit to date, and was fabricated by Toshiba using exactly the same manufacturing techniques used to make conventional electronic devices."
The group, which, includes researchers from Toshiba Corporation (Japan), Stanford University (US), University of Glasgow (UK) and TU Delft (The Netherlands), now plans to integrate the remaining necessary components onto a chip, and show that large-scale quantum devices using photons are possible.
"Our group has been making steady progress towards a functioning quantum computer over the last five years," said Thompson. "We hope to have a photon-based device which can rival modern computing hardware for highly-specialised tasks within the next couple of years."
Much of the work towards this goal will be carried out at Bristol's new Centre for Doctoral Training in Quantum Engineering, which will train a new generation of engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs to harness the power of quantum mechanics using state-of-the-art engineering technique to make real world and useful quantum enhanced devices. This innovative centre bridges the gaps between physics, engineering, mathematics and computer science, working closely with chemists and biologists while interacting strongly with industry.
Notes to editors
A full copy of the research paper is available from Nature Photonics doi:10.1038/nphoton.2013.339, and a preprint version from arXiv:1304.1490
For high-resolutions pictures (examples below) and picture captions, please see: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/5y4wnu8eyc7f82l/lbHBvBvqRu
Issued by University of Bristol Press Office, Hannah Johnson, email@example.com, 0117 331 8092, 07770 408 757
Hannah Johnson | EurekAlert!
New method will enable most accurate neutron measurement yet
02.10.2015 | Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI)
An easier way to operate and program multitasking machines
30.09.2015 | Siemens AG
The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will present how laser-based technologies can contribute to the laboratory of the future at the LABVOLUTION in Hannover in Hall 9, Stand E67/09, from October 6th to 8th, 2015. As a part of the model lab smartLAB, the LZH is showing how additive manufacturing, better known as 3-D printing, can make experimental setups more flexible.
Twelve partners from science and industry are presenting an intelligent and innovative model lab at the special display smartLAB. A part of this intelligent...
Before embarking on a transcontinental journey, jet airplanes fill up with tens of thousands of gallons of fuel. In the event of a crash, such large quantities of fuel increase the severity of an explosion upon impact.
Researchers at Caltech and JPL have discovered a polymeric fuel additive that can reduce the intensity of postimpact explosions that occur during accidents and...
When surgical residents need to practice a complicated procedure to fashion a new ear for children without one, they typically get a bar of soap, carrot or an apple.
To treat children with a missing or under-developed ear, experienced surgeons harvest pieces of rib cartilage from the child and carve them into the framework...
Walking an obstacle course on Earth is relatively easy. Walking an obstacle course on Earth after being in space for six months is not quite as simple. The...
01.10.2015 | Event News
30.09.2015 | Event News
17.09.2015 | Event News
02.10.2015 | Medical Engineering
02.10.2015 | Materials Sciences
02.10.2015 | Trade Fair News