Tuesday, December 13th 2011

So, What's So Fantastic About Quantum Photonic Chips?

Quantum photonic chips: these featured in the University of Bristol's press release today and sound like something out of Star Trek. So, what's so fantastic about them? This can best be explained by analogy with the transition from valves to transistors ie when electronic circuits went "solid state" in the 1960's, bringing huge advances in miniaturization and functionality. Current quantum experiments involve heavy and bulky equipment that can fill up a lab, uses lots of power, operates at close to absolute zero degrees kelvin and usually involve multiple lasers somewhere along the line. However, these photonic chips are just that, tiny solid state pieces of silicon that can store and manipulate qubits, the quantum equivalent of the bit. On top of that, they can be stacked together, to make complex digital circuits which can be reconfigured for various general purpose tasks.


This picture above shown in the press release, comes with the following explanation on the university's website: "Artist’s impression of the quantum photonic chip, showing the waveguide circuit (in white), and the voltage-controlled phase shifters (metal contacts on the surface). Photon pairs become entangled as they pass through the circuit. Image by University of Bristol's Centre for Quantum Photonics."

There's a bit more information about this research in the press release and we would like to talk in considerably more detail about it, but unfortunately, it's locked up behind a $32 paywall. From the looks of the picture in the press release, the equipment is still quite bulky however and likely still works at low temperatures. However, it's still a big advance on what we've had so far and this miniaturization might well be the key that finally unlocks the door to widespread use of quantum computers in something considerably less than a lifetime away. So, from a PC and gaming enthusiast's viewpoint, of great interest are the advances in realism that this technology brings to games. Will we finally be immersed in 3D photorealistic environments with artificial intelligence indistinguishable from that of a human? That would be truly amazing and is something worth waiting for.

Regardless of when the advancements come, TechPowerUp will be there to report on them. Watch this space.
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9 Comments on So, What's So Fantastic About Quantum Photonic Chips?

#1
Completely Bonkers
If this is private research, I'm OK with it being behind a $32 paywall. If this research is funded by British taxpayers at the University of Bristol, then I DEMAND Open Access!
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#2
erocker
Couldn't this news post be merged with the nearly identical one that preceded it? It seems rather redundant.
Posted on Reply
#3
LAN_deRf_HA
It's an e-pub right now. In about a month it will be properly published and anyone with a Texas public library card or who goes to a university will be able to get it for free.
Posted on Reply
#4
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: LAN_deRf_HA
It's an e-pub right now. In about a month it will be properly published and anyone with a Texas public library card or who goes to a university will be able to get it for free.
For free would be excellent. Do you know if it's likely to remain free online?
Posted on Reply
#5
Benetanegia
by: qubit
However, these photonic chips are just that, tiny solid state pieces of silicon that can store and manipulate qubits, the quantum equivalent of the bit.
Bah, cannot take this news seriously, this article/editorial is completely biased, the author has clearly been manipulated against his will.
Posted on Reply
#6
Death Star
the quantum equivalent of the bit
Entanglement is a quantum mechanical effect, but so are the operations of transistors. BJTs and FETs all operate on quantum mechanical principles (electron-hole pairing, and potential barriers, etc). The qubit isn't necessarily *the* quantum equivalent of the bit, it's just a bit represented by entangled particles. Quantum is a very touchy word in physics.

If you have a fairly serious math background and are familiar with some type of intro mechanics/E&M, I think you'd like:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0131118927/?tag=tec06d-20

Griffiths is amazing.
Posted on Reply
#7
LAN_deRf_HA
As long as you have access to the database through one of those means it will be free. I can get it on the online database but only after it's been published physically which will be in about a month.
Posted on Reply
#8
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: Benetanegia
Bah, cannot take this news seriously, this article/editorial is completely biased, the author has clearly been manipulated against his will.
Yes, I've been thoroughly "mixed" and have completely forgotten who I am. :laugh:

by: LAN_deRf_HA
As long as you have access to the database through one of those means it will be free. I can get it on the online database but only after it's been published physically which will be in about a month.
If you can get that for me, it'll be awesome - you've got yourself an article for sure. :)
Posted on Reply
#9
theJesus
by: erocker
Couldn't this news post be merged with the nearly identical one that preceded it? It seems rather redundant.
Tell that to all the people whining about having opinions in their news and maybe qubit wouldn't have felt compelled to make the editorial separate. :p

edit: btw, I didn't really read either so I'm not sure of the extent to which they are "identical"
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