Microscopy and communications could be enhanced by adapting new techniques for improving quantum technology for ‘real world’ applications.
Teams from Glasgow University and two French based organisations, Paris Institute of Nanosciences and Kastler Brossel lab, worked together to combat a long running challenge presented by quantum entanglement.
Entanglement enables two particles to maintain close connection, regardless of distance but difficulty in detecting it makes it hard to harness this for advanced microscopes and communications systems.
In their paper in the journal Physical Review X Quantum, the joint teams described how they developed an optical manipulation technique to preserve entanglement between photons travelling through challenging conditions.
Pairs of entangled photons were sent through a scattering layer, a process that normally causes random scattering that leaves entanglement undetectable. But, acting on the particles before they enter the layer, the researchers were able to compensate for the disturbance and restore entanglement at the output.
Corresponding author Dr Hugo Defienne of the Paris Institute and Glasgow University said: “It’s a little bit like turning omelettes back into eggs, and it’s the first time that it’s been done in quantum technologies.
“The system we’ve developed has the potential to make quantum entanglement much more robust in real-world environments by preserving entanglement in challenging situations. That could help advance new applications in quantum microscopy, where entangled photons could resolve higher-resolution images of tissue samples, or in communications, where messages could be more reliably encrypted and transmitted.
He added that their success derived from the use of experts in distinct fields of optics, including Paris-based Professor Sylvain Gigan’s experience in manipulating photons using light wave shaping techniques together with quantum imaging methods and the single-photon cameras developed by Defienne with Professor Daniele Faccio at the University of Glasgow.
Funding came from the Royal Academy of Engineering Chairs in Emerging Technologies Scheme, the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, and the European Research Council.