Quantum light source goes fully on-chip, bringing scalability to the quantum cloud

Scientists have used a novel hybrid technology to develop a quantum light source capable of generating entangled qubits while being smaller than a one-euro coin.
Tejasri Gururaj
Quantum light source chip smaller than a one euro coin
Quantum light source chip smaller than a one euro coin

Institute of Photonics/LUH 

Scientists from the Leibniz University Hannover in Germany, the University of Twente in the Netherlands, and a start-up company QuiX Quantum have demonstrated a fully integrated quantum light source on a chip smaller than a one-euro coin. 

The study published in Nature Photonics on April 17, 2023, could be a game-changer for enabling quantum technologies such as quantum computers and unhackable secure communication channels.

What are quantum light sources?

Quantum light sources produce photons (light particles) that can be used as quantum bits or qubits. Integrated or on-chip photonics are becoming popular for processing optical quantum states as they are robust, compact, and scalable, making them ideal for various quantum applications.

However, one of the significant challenges with quantum sources is that they are bulky laser systems. Additionally, they are external sources and off-chip, which makes the qubits susceptible to noise, thereby limiting the usability of quantum sources even more. 

What did the researchers do?

To overcome these problems, scientists used hybrid technology. They did this to combine the indium phosphide laser, a laser cavity, and a filter, all on a single chip. This technology not only overcomes the earlier-mentioned challenges but also allows the development of quantum systems on a chip at room temperature and lowers the production cost for various quantum computing applications. 

Using their cutting-edge hybrid technique, the researchers reduced the quantum light source by a factor of over 1,000. Their quantum source can generate two "entangled" photons that can be used as qubits to store quantum information. 

Entangled or correlated quantum states are connected or linked irrespective of the physical distance between them. This means that qubits can be linked to exponentially speeding up quantum systems processing. This is one of the cornerstones for the realization of a quantum internet as well as for making quantum clouds scalable.

Using a hybrid photonic chip allows for producing entangled quantum light sources that are lightweight, compact, scalable, and commercially feasible. They also take us one step closer to many significant milestones, such as achieving quantum supremacy and the realization of a quantum internet.

In addition to the field of quantum computing, this research may significantly impact other areas, such as cryptography and finance, where secure communication is essential for protecting sensitive information. As quantum technology performs better and becomes more reliable, it will lead us into a new age of computing and communication.

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