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Driving revolution in information and communication with quantum technologies

Welcome to the home of the Young-Quantum group; an experimental physics group, led by Dr Robert Young, a Reader of Quantum Information at Lancaster and an Adjunct Professor at IFFS (Chengdu). We focus on developing practical quantum devices for applications in information and communication technologies (ICT). Research from the group is being commercialised via the spin-out company Quantum Base.

 

Our research straddles three main disciplines: material science, quantum optics and information security. Through the hybridisation of these fields we are driving a unique research theme; investigating the application of light-matter interfaces in low-dimensional structures for physical security applications. We have made several significant contributions to the field of material science. Real world device applications incorporating low-dimensional structures are limited by a lack of control over their physical properties, a consequence of the random growth process. Rather than forming these structures on a flat surface, in our research they were grown into an array of tetragonal pits, etched into the substrate. Subsequent epitaxial growth resulted in an ensemble of near-identical dots located in the apices of the pyramids. This work holds the record in-class for its optical properties and uniformity. By placing individual quantum dots in a simple diode-like structure we were also able to demonstrate that it is possible to transfer information from a single photon to an electron stored in the dot (Nature Materials New and Views, 2008).

 

 

In the field of quantum optics our research led to the first demonstration of non-probabilistic entangled photon-pair generation (Nature, 2006). Measuring even simple quantum states is time-consuming; a two-photon density matrix is described by 16 real and imaginary components. If partial knowledge of the system is known, however, the resources required to characterise the state can be reduced significantly. We showed that it was possible to calculate Bell parameters by making just two measurements (PRL 2009).

 

In the field of Information Security we developed a novel protocol for combining quantum information with classical communications (BBC News, 2011), achieved by interleaving quantum information with classical information both temporally and energetically; an important experimental demonstration was performed on a live network. In 2015 we showed that it is possible to extract unique identities from atomic-scale variations of a nanomaterial, within simple semiconductor diodes (Scientific Reports, BBC News, 2015). These fingerprints could be used to prevent fraud and counterfeiting in a wide range of markets.

 

A quantum identit tag being probed in the cleanroom

A chip containing a large number of quantum identities being probed in Lancaster's Quantum Technology Centre.

 

Harnessing simple quantum properties in information exchange may change our lives, with an impact that is potentially as large on society as the digital information revolution has been; the Young-Quantum group's aspiration is to play a significant role in delivering this.