Processes at the quantum scale are in many cases qualitatively different to those we experience in our daily lives. By researching and understanding the quantum world, it is becoming possible to create technologies that would have seemed impossible just a couple of decades ago.
One such area is quantum cryptography the science of sending secret messages via a quantum channel. It uses properties of quantum mechanics to establish a secure key, a process known as quantum key distribution. This key can then be used at a later stage to send encrypted information.
Quantum techniques can also be applied to reducing the noise present in laser beams, a process known as squeezing. The aim of squeezed light is to saturate the Heisenberg uncertainty principle such that the product of the two measurables take on a minimum value. We study the application of squeezed light to a variety of areas including the detection of gravitational waves.
Another important area of research is quantum computing in which individual quantum states are used to store information rather than the transistor gates of an electronic computer. The principle advantage of quantum systems is their processing capacity essentially increases as the power of the number of gates not linearly as with electronic computers. This gives a quantum computer the potential to undertake tasks that are currently impossible such as many body climate models and the breaking of codes.
Quantum physics can also be applied to the creation of enhanced electronic devices. the RSPE has two operational MOCVD growth systems and a vast suite of associated diagnostic and device fabrication facilities devoted to the design, growth and testing of novel III-V semiconductor devices. Much of this activity has linkages to commercial device manufacturers and focuses on emitters and detectors of importance to the telecommunications industry. Recent developments include novel nanoscale fibre lasers grown vertically from wafer surfaces, high power quantum well edge emitting lasers and quantum dot detectors.
Selected research highlights
Potential student research projects
You could be doing your own research into fusion and plasma confinement. Below are some examples of student physics research projects available in RSPE.
Please browse our full list of available physics research projects to find a project that interests you.
This project aims to use a machine learning algorithm to perform beam alignment in an optics experiment. It would involve mode-matching two optical beams using motorised mirror mounts. Additional degrees of freedom like lens positions and beam polarisation can be added later.
This project aims to develop high capacity quantum memories for light by using novel rare earth crystals.
An optical quantum memory will capture a pulse of light, store it and then controllably release it. This has to be done without ever knowing what you have stored, because a measurement will collapse the quantum state. We are exploring a "photon echo" process to achieve this goal.
Student will develop a source of laser light at 775nm that will be utilised for pumping of squeezing cavities