Scientists Develop New Chip For Quantum Computers And Data Security
Researchers at the University of Bristol's Quantum
Engineering Technology Labs have demonstrated a new type of silicon chip that
can help building and testing quantum computers and could find their way into
your mobile phone to secure information, according to university spokespersons.
Scientific effort worldwide is focused on attempting to use
silicon photonics to realise quantum technologies, such as super-secure communications,
quantum super computers and new ways build increased sensitivity sensors.
Silicon photonic chips process information made of light using an area millions
of times smaller than what would be possible using individual lenses, mirrors
and other optics to create a similar device.
Now, researchers at the University of Bristol have made a
breakthrough for silicon quantum photonics; they have developed new type of
on-chip detector capable of measuring quantum mechanical behavior within the
integrated chip architecture. This is a new tool for making sure silicon
photonic processors work the way they are designed and can themselves be used
for other tasks, such as generating random numbers for cryptography, vital for
the security industry, and as an important part of new types of optical sensor.
PhD student Giacomo Ferranti explained, "The great thing
about the detector is that it works at room temperature. A lot of single photon
detection requires cryogenics at ~4 Kelvin" (minus 270oC).
"While those cold detectors have their own amazing
benefits, they are currently expensive and require large cryogenic fridges. Our
detector is both small enough to sit on a human hair and can work in normal
room temperature conditions."
One of the key applications that the detector has already
been used for by the researchers is to generate random numbers.
"The ability to generate truly random numbers with a
machine, without any bias, is actually a very difficult task," explains
Francesco Raffaelli, another PhD student responsible for the project. "Random
numbers have all sorts of applications, but the one that interests me the most
is its use for cryptography and quantum cryptography. One day soon, I imagine
these devices will be routinely part of the micro-processor on your desktop PC
and in your mobile phone to keep them secure."