New Quantum Research Provides New Insights into How Quantum Light Can be Mastered

New Quantum Research Gives Insights Into How Quantum Light Can Be Mastered
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By Daniel Webster, dWeb.News

Newswise — Los Alamos (N.M.), July 21, 2021 – A team of scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory suggests that modulated quantum metasurfaces could control all properties photonic qubits. This breakthrough could have a profound impact on the fields of quantum information and communications, sensing, imaging, energy, and momentum harvesting. Yesterday, the results of their study were published in the journal Physical Review Letters by the American Physical Society. “People have been studying classical metasurfaces for a while,” Diego Dalvit, who is part of the Laboratory’s Theoretical Division’s Condensed Matter and Complex Systems team, said. “But we came up a new idea. We modulated in time and space the optical characteristics of a quantum metasurface that allows us to manipulate, on demand, all degrees of freedom a single photon, which are the most elementary unit light. Metasurfaces are thin structures that manipulate light in new ways. The team created a metasurface that looked similar to a series of rotating crosses. They can manipulate it with electrical pulses or lasers. They then proposed to shoot a single photon through the metasurface, where the photon splits into a superposition of many colors, paths, and spinning states that are all intertwined, generating so-called quantum entanglement–meaning the single photon is capable of inheriting all these different properties at once. “When the metasurface’s electrical pulses or lasers are used to modulate it, one can alter the frequency of the refracted photon, alter its trajectory, direction of its electric fields, and even twist it,” Abul Azad, from the Laboratory’s Materials Physics and Applications Division, says. This technology can be used to encode information within photons traveling in a quantum network. This includes everything from banks, quantum computer, satellites, and everything between Earth and the moon. Because “eavesdroppers” cannot see a photon without changing its fundamental physical properties, it is very desirable to encode photons in cryptography. This would alert both the sender and the receiver that the information was compromised. Researchers are also studying how to extract photons from a vacuum using the quantum metasurface. “The quantum vacuum is not empty, but full of fleeting virtual photosns. Wilton Kort-Kamp works in the Theoretical Division of the Lab’s Condensed Matter Complex Systems group. He says that the modulated quantum metasurface allows one to extract and convert virtual photos into real photon pairs. Propulsion should be created by harnessing photons in the vacuum and shooting them in the opposite direction. The twisted photons can also be stirred in the vacuum to create rotational motion. Structured quantum light could be used to generate mechanical thrust using very little energy to drive the metasurface. Wilton J. M. Kort–Kamp, Abul K. Azad and Diego A. R. Dalvit. Space-Time Quantum Metasurfaces. Phys. Rev. Lett. Lett. Published 20 July 2021. DOI: Funding: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Los Alamos National Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD)About Los Alamos National LaboratoryLos Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is managed by Triad, a public service oriented, national security science organization equally owned by its three founding members: Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle), the Texas A&M University System (TAMUS), and the Regents of the University of California (UC) for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns. LA-UR-21-27113

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