New Way to Store Photons Could Improve Quantum Computing


Scientists at the Advanced Science Research Center at The Graduate Center, CUNY, developed a new theory for how to trap, store, and release photons. Their ideas could make way for new avenues in quantum computing and communication.

Quantum computing may someday emerge as the faster, more powerful successor of today’s computing methods. Scientists anticipate being able to develop new medicines and materials more quickly, and create highly secure systems thanks to improved cryptography.

At the core of quantum computing are photons. These tiny packets of light will communicate data through quantum systems the way 1s and 0s do today. However, photons become fragile when stored in matter and can lose information.

“The goal is to store and release single photons on demand by simultaneously ensuring the stability of data,” Professor Andrea Alù of the Advanced Science Research Center at The Graduate Center, CUNY, said in an interview with the ASRC. Alù and postdoctoral fellow Michele Cotrufo were authors on the paper, published in Optica.

An open cavity would be a poor choice for storing photons as it would allow light to leak out, but a closed cavity wouldn’t let light in. To get around this, the researchers propose a cavity that acts closed when hit by one photon, but opens up when hit with two. One of the photons is then lost but the second will stay in the cavity indefinitely, without loss. All that’s needed to release this photon is to hit the cavity with light once more.

Besides quantum computing, the authors say, the work could also open opportunities in the field of attojoule optoelectronics, which aims to develop devices that are operate at ultra-low energies in the interest of lowering our energy consumption.

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Andrea Alu (Professor, Physics) | Profile 1 | Profile 2
Michele Cotrufo (Postdoctoral fellow, Physics) | Profile 1

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