NIST advances single photon management for quantum computers

Gated photon source starts with the bright green 532nm wavelength laser beam that strikes a crystal (bright green spot, center) and is converted into pairs of photons at 810nm (false colored blue here, it's at the end of the red spectrum) and 1550nm (in the infrared, false colored red here.). The "blue" beam is the herald channel, the "red" beam goes through a spool of optical fiber (right) to delay it long enough for the gate to open or shut. Credit: Brida, INRIM

The quantum computers of tomorrow might use photons, or particles of light, to move around the data they need to make calculations, but photons are tricky to work with. Two new papers* by researchers working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have brought science closer to creating reliable sources of photons for these long-heralded devices.

* G. Brida, I. P. Degiovanni1, M. Genovese, A. Migdall, F. Piacentini, S. V. Polyakov and I. Ruo Berchera. Experimental realization of a low-noise heralded single-photon source. Optics Express, Jan. 14, 2011, pp. 1470 – 1483. DOI: 133913.

J. Chen, Z.H. Levine, J. Fan and A.L. Migdall. Frequency-bin entangled comb of photon pairs from a Silicon-on-Insulator micro-resonator. Optics Express, Jan. 14, 2011, pp. 1484 – 1492. DOI: 133346.