A research team led by EE professor Jelena Vuckovic, has spent the past several years working toward the development of nanoscale lasers and quantum technologies that might someday enable conventional computers to communicate faster and more securely using light instead of electricity. Vuckovic and her team, including Kevin Fischer, a doctoral candidate and lead author of a paper describing the project, believe that a modified nanoscale laser can be used to efficiently generate quantum light for fully protected quantum communication. "Quantum networks have the potential for secure end-to-end communication wherein the information channel is secured by the laws of quantum physics," states PhD candidate Kevin Fischer.
Signal processing is helping the IoT and other network technologies to operate faster, more efficiently, and very reliably. Advanced research also promises to open new opportunities in key areas, such as highly secure communication and various types of wireless networks.
The biggest challenge the researchers have faced so far is dealing with the fact that quantum light is far weaker than the rest of the light emitted by a modified laser, making it difficult to detect. Addressing this obstacle, the team developed a method to filter out the unwanted light, enabling the quantum signal to be read much better. "Some of the light coming back from the modified laser is like noise, preventing us from seeing the quantum light," Fischer says. "We canceled it out to reveal and emphasize the quantum signal hidden beneath."
Despite being a promising demonstration of revealing the quantum light, the technique is not yet ready for large-scale deployment. The Vuckovic group is working on scaling the technique for reliable application in a quantum network.
Excerpted from "A Networking Revolution Powered by Signal Processing," IEEE Signal Processing Magazine, January 2017.
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