Quantum computers get a speed boost from a new device made by Bristol University researchers


By Edward Deacon, SciTech Digital Editor

Researchers from Bristol University and Université Côte d‘Azur have created a new device that could improve the speed of quantum computers by ten times.

The new device is a miniaturised light detector made from two silicon chips and measures the properties of ‘squeezed’ light at record speeds, significantly faster than the previous state of the art.

Next-generation technologies like quantum computers could use light as the carrier of information and have the potential for computing power that far exceeds regular computers.

Squeezed light – light that has been manipulated using its quantum properties – can be used to carry information in quantum computers but requires detectors that are very sensitive to the weak features of the light.

Until now, such detectors have been limited in the frequency of signals they can measure which has had ‘a direct impact on the processing speeds of emerging technologies such as optical computers’, said co-lead author Jonathan Frazer from the University’s Quantum Engineering Technology (QET) Labs.

The new detector is still being refined to achieve an even greater bandwidth and as Frazer explains: ‘The higher the bandwidth of your detector, the faster you can perform calculations and transmit information.’

Improving the ways we can measure squeezed light can have a big impact

Co-lead author of the study, Joel Tasker from the QET Labs, added that squeezed light ‘has already been used by the LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave observatories to improve their sensitivity, helping to detect exotic astronomical events such as black hole mergers.

‘So, improving the ways we can measure it can have a big impact.’

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The high-speed performance of the device is enabled by its small size, measuring less than one square millimetre, which makes manufacturing devices on a large scale easier.

Professor Jonathan Matthews, director of the project from the QET Labs, said that ‘much of the focus has been on the quantum part, but we’ve now begun integrating the interface between quantum photonics and electrical readout.’

As stated in the study, this will enable ‘mass manufacture of small quantum devices for communication, sensing and promises the precision and scale of fabrication required to assemble useful quantum computers.’

Featured Image: University of Bristol

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Edward Deacon

SciTech Digital Editor 2020-21 | 4th year Physics