June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.678.1 - 12.678.8
Entangled Photon Experiments for Engineering Technology Abstract
The fact that a Quantum Computer can (at least in principle) break the security of classical encryption codes has spurred a tremendous interest in the development of Quantum Encryption (QE) – the only means of restoring computer data and telecommunication security. Once the realm of a select few of quantum physicists, QE has now become a very important emerging technology. Herein important technological issues (that our Engineering Technology Photonics students are well versed in) arise. Two of the most important issues of practical implementation are: the brightness of the sources and the efficiency of the detectors.
Single-photon sources have only recently been made practical and economically accessible for use in undergraduate laboratories.1 This occurred in undergraduate physics labs, where the focus has been upon the use of these to demonstrate the most strikingly non-classical aspects of quantum physics.2 With similar apparatus however, our emphasis will be on the application of these to QE, such as: the practical implementation issue of approximating the non-classical source with a highly attenuated standard laser. This also helps connect the Entangled Photon experiments to our Laser Technology curricula.
Similarly, issues regarding detector efficiencies connect the Entangled Photon experiments to students experiences in the Lightwave Telecommunications area. Therein, we perform experiments comparing avalanche photodiodes (APDs) to PIN photodiodes. The high gain of APDs makes them attractive for single-photon and low intensity laser applications. The highest gains can be achieved in silicon APDs and the extensive use of silicon in the electronics industry makes the material advantageous for integrated photonics/electronics chips. Unfortunately silicon does not respond well to the optical wavelengths (around 1550nm) that are presently used in the telecommunications industry. Thus, the interplay of: industry; cost; technology; and materials, becomes a part of the laboratory component – even within this seemingly esoteric application.
Why Engineering Technology?
It has been said that the two most significant areas of technological innovation in current times can be categorized as: “nano” and “quantum” (with as much potential societal impact as the transistor and the laser held in the 1960’s). The promises of nanotechnology are well known and the potential impact of quantum computers and quantum communication is becoming more apparent in the public domain. Apart from exposing undergraduates to an important emerging technology however – why should quantum communication experiments be integrated into engineering technology laboratory components at this time?
One reason is that it is now time for quantum encryption to be brought into actual/practical implementation. This goal is precisely the path a committee at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has recommended for the primary focus of future funding in the area3. As the LANL 'Quantum Information Science and Technology Roadmap' puts it: "... will build on existing … capabilities to integrate them within networked optical communications testbeds at
Shepard, S. (2007, June), Entangled Photon Experiments For Engineering Technology Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2513
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