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Quantum Photonics

Definition: the science and technology using quantum optics for applications like quantum communications, quantum computing and quantum metrology

More general term: photonics

German: Quantenphotonik

Categories: photonic devices, quantum optics

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Quantum photonics is the science and technology which uses quantum optics for certain applications where quantum effects play an essential role:

While quantum optics serves as the underlying basic science, quantum photonics denotes its technological use. It could also be called applied quantum optics.

Generally, quantum photonics applications involve the generation, manipulation and detection of light and matter with control on the quantum level, often involving single photons. Often, the interactions of light with matter – for example, single atoms or ions in an optical trap or a quantum – also plays an essential role. One may also exploit quantum entanglement, e.g. between photons within photon pairs or between atoms, or between photons and atoms. Compared with atoms and ions, photons have the advantage of exhibiting much weaker tendencies for loss of quantum coherence since they react much less to external influences such as electric and magnetic fields. Also, they can be relatively easily manipulated. However, interactions with matter are often required for important processing steps.

While some areas of quantum photonics have already been developed to a state where first practical applications have become possible – in particular, this is true for certain aspects of quantum communications such as quantum cryptography – other fields such as quantum computing are still under intense investigation in the search for practical implementations. This includes the development of relatively robust miniature devices for functions like single photon sources, quantum gates and quantum memories. The development could lead to a technology which is similar to that of classical photonic integrated circuits, which can perform more or less complex functions in a rather small volume, and exhibit good manufacturability. However, serious technological obstacles need to be overcome. For example, essential parts of so far developed quantum computation technology are not scalable to larger numbers of qbits; it becomes extremely hard to avoid various kinds of processes causing quantum decoherence. Therefore, further research and development must not only further optimize various kinds of components for quantum photonics but also work out improved concepts and principles.

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See also: quantum optics, quantum cryptography, quantum key distribution
and other articles in the categories photonic devices, quantum optics


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