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Scientists from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. John A. Paulson (SEAS) developed a new integrated photonic platform that can store light and electrically control its frequency (or color) in an integrated circuit.
Microwave signals are common in wireless communications, but researchers previously thought they were too weak to interact with photons. Harvard physicists were able to prove the opposite thanks to a new technology for the manufacture of highly efficient optical microstructures based on lithium niobate, a material with powerful electro-optical properties..
The team initially demonstrated that they could propagate light through nanowaveguides with very little loss and control its intensity using built-in modulators. In subsequent studies, they combined and refined these technologies, creating a system for programming photons using microwave radiation. The developed chip allows not only controlling the change in the frequency of photons, but also storing them and generating light on demand, which was previously impossible..
According to scientists, the unique properties of lithium niobate, with its low optical loss and strong electro-optical nonlinearity, provide dynamic control of radiation in a programmable system. The invention can be used to process photonic quantum information and optical signals in microwave photonics, radio astronomy, radar and other areas.
At the moment, scientists are developing optical waveguides and microwave circuits with even lower losses, based on the same architecture. This will allow the system to work with 100% efficiency, and will allow the implementation of the quantum cloud project – a distributed network of quantum computers connected through secure optical communication channels.
Physicists from the Canadian University of Alberta have presented an equally innovative technology for the functioning of future quantum computers. They developed «hard drive for photons» for storing sensitive quantum information.
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: SEAS Harvard, GettyImages