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    Critical Thought

    Critical thoughts on quantum technologies

    New Semiconductor Breakthrough Enables Affordable Quantum Communication

    ByThemba Hadebe

    Jan 26, 2024
    New Semiconductor Breakthrough Enables Affordable Quantum Communication

    Researchers at Heriot-Watt University and several European institutions have made a groundbreaking discovery that could revolutionize quantum communication. Professor Cristian Bonato, co-lead of Heriot-Watt’s Quantum Photonics Laboratory, and his team have developed a semiconductor system with single atoms that all emit light at the same frequency. This eliminates the need for expensive lasers and additional equipment, which are currently required for atoms to communicate using light in quantum networks.

    Until now, the main obstacle in quantum communication has been the variation in frequencies emitted by atoms in a semiconductor. This has required the use of costly lasers and complex frequency-conversion equipment. However, Bonato and his colleagues decided to introduce vanadium atoms to the semiconductor, as vanadium emits light at a frequency compatible with standard telecommunication fiber networks.

    By implanting single vanadium atoms into silicon carbide, which is already widely used in the electric vehicle industry, the researchers were able to ensure that all atoms in the system emit light at exactly the same optical frequency. This breakthrough allows the atoms to communicate with each other and transmit quantum information without the need for additional equipment or expensive fiber laying.

    The implications of this discovery are significant. Quantum networks are essential for keeping data secure in the digital age, and this breakthrough paves the way for affordable and readily available quantum communication. With the widespread use of silicon carbide in existing manufacturing processes, the adoption of quantum networks can be accelerated without the need for complex and costly investments.

    The research, which was funded by the European Commission and the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), has been published in Nature Communications. Professor Cristian Bonato believes that this breakthrough will play a crucial role in enhancing the security of our communications and ensuring the future of data protection.

    FAQ Section

    1. What is the groundbreaking discovery made by researchers at Heriot-Watt University?
    – Researchers at Heriot-Watt University have developed a semiconductor system with single atoms that all emit light at the same frequency.

    2. What is the significance of this discovery?
    – This discovery eliminates the need for expensive lasers and additional equipment currently required for atoms to communicate using light in quantum networks, paving the way for affordable and readily available quantum communication.

    3. What was the main obstacle in quantum communication prior to this discovery?
    – The main obstacle was the variation in frequencies emitted by atoms in a semiconductor, which required costly lasers and complex frequency-conversion equipment.

    4. How did the researchers overcome this obstacle?
    – The researchers introduced vanadium atoms to the semiconductor, as vanadium emits light at a frequency compatible with standard telecommunication fiber networks. By implanting single vanadium atoms into silicon carbide, they were able to ensure that all atoms emit light at exactly the same optical frequency.

    5. What are the implications of this discovery?
    – The implications are significant as quantum networks are essential for keeping data secure in the digital age. This breakthrough enables affordable and readily available quantum communication without the need for complex and costly investments.

    6. How was the research funded?
    – The research was funded by the European Commission and the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

    Key Terms and Definitions

    – Quantum communication: Communication that uses quantum mechanics principles to transmit and receive information securely.
    – Quantum networks: Networks that enable secure communication using quantum mechanics principles.
    – Semiconductor: A material that has electrical conductivity between that of a conductor and an insulator. It is commonly used in electronic devices.
    – Telecommunication fiber networks: Networks that transmit information through fiber-optic cables, which use pulses of light to carry data.
    – Silicon carbide: A widely used material in the electric vehicle industry that has excellent thermal conductivity and high temperature stability.

    Related Links

    Heriot-Watt University
    Nature Communications