Credit: The University of Bristol

Credit: The University of Bristol

New chip technology paves way for better quantum computing power

According to a press release by the University of Bristol in the UK, an international team of quantum scientists and engineers have realised an advanced large-scale silicon quantum photonic device that can entangle photons to incredible levels of precision.

The work was in collaboration with Peking University, Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Institut de Ciencies Fotoniques (ICFO), Max Planck Institute, Center for Theoretical Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences, and University of Copenhagen. 

The paper titled “Multidimensional quantum entanglement with large-scale integrated optics” has been published in the journal Science.

The coherent and precise control of large quantum devices and complex multidimensional entanglement systems has been a challenging task owing to the complex interactions of correlated particles in large quantum systems.

Significant progress towards the realization of large-scale quantum devices has been recently reported in a variety of platforms including photons, superconductors, ions, dots and defects. In particular, photonics represents a promising approach to naturally encode and process multidimensional qudit states in the photon’s different degrees of freedom.

The team was led by scientists from the University of Bristol’s Quantum Engineering Technology Laboratories (QET Labs) has demonstrated the first ever large-scale integrated quantum photonic circuit, which integrating hundreds of essential components, can generate, control and analyse high-dimensional entanglement with an unprecedented level of precision.

The mission of QETLabs is to take quantum science discoveries out of the labs and engineer them into technologies for the benefit of society.  It brings together £50 million worth of activity that covers theoretical quantum physics through experiment, engineering and skills and training toward concept demonstrators of quantum technologies.

According to the leader of the Bristol team Professor Mark Thompson, the team used the same manufacturing tools and techniques that are exploited in today’s microelectronics industry to realise the silicon quantum photonic microchip.

 “However, unlike conventional electronic circuits that utilise the classical behaviour of electrons, the  circuits exploit the quantum properties of single particle of light. This silicon photonics approach to quantum technologies provides a clear path to scaling up to the many millions of components that are ultimately needed for large-scale quantum computing applications,” Prof Thompson said.

While standard quantum hardware entangles particles in two states, the team has found a way to generate and entangle pairs of particles that each has 15 states.

Dr Anthony Laing, a lead academic in Bristol’s QETLabs and corresponding author, said: “Entanglement is a fascinating feature of quantum mechanics and one that we do not yet fully understand. This device and future generations of chips of increasing complexity and sophistication will allow us to explore this realm of quantum science and make new discoveries.”

In this work, a programmable path-encoded multidimensional entangled system with dimension up to 15×15 is demonstrated, where two photon exists over 15 optical paths at the same time and are entangled with each other.

This multidimensional entanglement is realised by exploiting silicon-photonics quantum circuits, integrating in a single chip, 550 optical components, including 16 identical photon-pair sources, 93 optical phase-shifters, 122 beam-splitters.

“It is the maturity of today’s silicon-photonics that allows us to scale up the technology and reach a large-scale integration of quantum circuits,” said Lead author Dr Jianwei Wang.

The integrated photonic chip sets a new standard for complexity and precision of quantum photonics, with immediate applications for quantum technologies.

“Our quantum chip allows us to reach unprecedented levels of precision and control of multidimensional entanglement, a key factor in many quantum information tasks of computing and communication,” Dr Wang added.

Integrated quantum photonics allows the routing and control of single particles of light with intrinsically high stability and precision, however to date it has been limited to small-scale demonstrations in which only a small number of components are integrated on a chip.

Scaling up these quantum circuits is of paramount importance to increasing the complexity and computational power of modern quantum information processing technologies, opening-up the possibility of many revolutionary applications.

"The development of powerful large-scale integrated photonic quantum chips will provide an efficient route to the future applications in the fields of quantum communication, quantum computing and many others," said Professor Qihuang Gong, the lead academic from Peking University.

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