Centre for Photonics and Photonic Materials

Bath part of new quantum information processing network

Wed Dec 03 10:26:00 GMT 2014

The Centre for Photonics and Photonic Materials in the Department of Physics will contribute to a new quantum information technologies hub through its optical fibre fabrication facility and optics labs.

early stage in our optical fibre fabrication processThe Networked Quantum Information Technologies (NQIT) Hub is one of four hubs that are part of a new £120 million national network, funded by the EPSRC, that will explore the properties of quantum mechanics and how they can be harnessed for use in technology. The NQIT Hub is led by the University of Oxford and involves 29 leading quantum centres and major companies.

The NQIT Hub's focus is on quantum information processing, which will enable users to solve problems that even the most powerful of today's supercomputers struggle with. They will accelerate the discovery of new drugs or materials by simulating different molecular designs using programmable software, thus dramatically reducing the laborious trial and error of making each molecule in the laboratory.
Another application is making sense of "big data", the immense torrent of information about economics, climate, and health that can help us make better predictions of future trends.

To enable quantum information processing, the NQIT Hub will build quantum networks: nodes for storing and processing information that are linked together using individual photons (single particles of light). The most convenient way of transmitting these photons is through the same optical fibre as used for telecommunications, however, many of the systems that can function as quantum nodes emit light at wavelengths unsuitable for propagation in fibre.

Peter Mosley, from the Centre for Photonics and Photonic Materials, said:
"A key requirement for these quantum networks is the capability to convert individual photons between different wavelength ranges. In other words, to change the colour of single photons, while preserving the information that they carry.

"Here in Bath we will work on wavelength conversion of single photons using the exceptional properties of the optical fibre that we can fabricate, known as photonic crystal fibre."