Multi-Purpose Photonic Chip Paves the Way to Programmable Quantum Processors

 University of Bristol News (12/11/11)

 University of Bristol researchers have developed an optical chip that generates, manipulates, and measures two quantum phenomena, entanglement and mixture, which are essential for building quantum computers.  The researchers showed that entanglement can be generated, manipulated, and measured on a silicon chip.  The chip also has been able to measure mixture, which can be used to characterize quantum circuits.  “To build a quantum computer, we not only need to be able to control complex phenomena, such as entanglement and mixture, but we need to be able to do this on a chip, so that we can scalably and practically duplicate many such miniature circuits–in much the same way as the modern computers we have today,” says Bristol professor Jeremy O’Brien.  “Our device enables this and we believe it is a major step forward towards optical quantum computing.”  The chip consists of a network of tiny channels that guide, manipulate, and interact with single photons.  “It’s exciting because we can perform many different experiments in a very straightforward way, using a single reconfigurable chip,” says Bristol’s Peter Shadbolt.  The researchers are now scaling up the complexity of the device for use as a building block for quantum computers.

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