Advancing quantum technologies: developing 3D networks for light particles

Scientists have successfully created 3D networks for photons, giving pairs of entangled light particles new freedoms and making them usable for high-performance quantum technologies.

The ground-breaking research on light, quantum physics and quantum technologies is being conducted by scientists at the University of Rostock, led by Professor Alexander Szameit. The initial research results have since been published in Science Advances journal.

Light offers a multitude of photonic technologies such as material processing, eye operations and the transmission of massive amounts of data through fibre optic cables. Referring to his research on optical quantum computers, Szameit commented that “light can also calculate faster than our computers.”

The internet consists of a vast number of entries connected to each other by hyperlinks. Currently, one of the most important challenges for today’s quantum technologies, is developing an equally dense quantum network.

“Drawing the World Wide Web from points and connections is child’s play. All you need is pen and paper and a lot of patience,” joked Professor Szameit. The technical implementation for quantum networks poses far more challenges.

The physicists at Rostock University have been using laser-made circuits to control the spatial propagation of light particles in glass chips. In cooperation with Freiburg and Innsbruck scientists, they have been able to add polarisation (the direction of oscillation of light) as a further degree of freedom for the light particles.

Szameit commented: “This is a real breakthrough. We have gained an additional dimension for the light particles.”

“That means that we not only have twice as many points in one fell swoop, but also twice as many connections for each of them” added co-author, Dr Matthias Heinrich.

The team has also been testing the behaviour of the photons on their customised networks and have even been able to change their behaviour. Szameit summarised the experiments by saying: “The additional paths give the photons the opportunity to social distance, but also to find each other again.”

The team has made important advancements in the field of quantum optics and integrated photonics, but there are still challenged to overcome before light-based quantum technologies and neural networks are widely applicable.

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