An international collaboration, led by Dr Mark Thompson from the University of Bristol, has managed to generate and manipulate single particles of light (photons) on a silicon chip. This is described as a major step forward in the race to build a quantum computer.
Apparently, reports the University, 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," said 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 performing enormously complex calculations."
According to group leader Mark Thompson:
"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. 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. We can generate and manipulate quantum entanglement all within a single mm-sized micro-chip."
A full copy of the research paper is available from Nature Photonics.
Bristol has a newly established Centre for Doctoral Training in Quantum Engineering, which is intended to train engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs to harness the power of quantum mechanics.