Six Simultaneous Photons on a Chip

Six Simultaneous Photons on a Chip
Made of niobium on a quartz substrate, this superconducting circuit can emit a beam of up to six microwave photons. The appendix shows a close-up view of the Josephson junction used to inject charge carriers of a given energy into the resonator. Credits: GC Ménard et al., Physical Review X (2022). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevX.12.021006

A team of researchers, along with members from the University of Paris-Saclay, the University of Ulm and the Institute of Quantum Technologies, has developed an on-chip circuit that produces up to six microwave photons simultaneously. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters X, the group describes how they built the device, how well it works, and how it produces entangled particles. This is thought to be a more efficient way of producing entangled particles.

In recent years, scientists and engineers have found multiple uses for entangled particles. They looked for a way to produce them more efficiently.

It is usually created using a device that splits a single photon into two photons, each with less energy.

In this new effort, the researchers took a different approach, using a superconducting circuit. The circuit was designed using a Josephson junction, a coil inductor, and a capacitor placed on a chip-sized base. A Josephson junction is a device with two superconducting strips placed on a base plate at a short distance from each other. There is an insulating barrier between them.

Applying voltage to one of the strips pushes the voltage through the insulator where Cooper electron pairs are formed.

These tunnels pass through the barrier and the amount of energy they have depends on the amount of voltage applied.

In the new circuit, the coil inductor and capacitor were tuned to resonate at microwave frequencies, and the number of photons emitted by the device depended on the applied voltage.

The device can produce six photons simultaneously.

The researchers did not test the photons to determine whether they were entangled, but believed they were based on previous experiments they did.

They also did not attempt to modify the device to determine whether more than six photons could be produced.

More testing is needed, but if the device works as hoped, it could mark the beginning of a new wave of research based on entangled groups of particles.

What is Quantum Entanglement?

Quantum entanglement is a physical phenomenon that occurs when a group of particles is formed, interacted or shared spatial proximity in such a way that the quantum state of each particle of the group cannot be described independently of the state of the others.

The particles are separated by a large distance.

The issue of quantum entanglement is at the center of the disparity between classical and quantum physics: entanglement is a primary feature of quantum mechanics that classical mechanics lacks.

What are entangled particles?

Entanglement occurs when a pair of particles, such as photons, physically interact. A laser beam fired from a particular type of crystal can cause individual photons to split into entangled photon pairs. Photons can be separated a great distance, hundreds of miles or more.


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