Researchers in Australia Claim a Breakthrough for Quantum Communications

A team of researchers from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) have found a material capable of emitting a single pulse of quantum light at room temperature, on demand.

The team’s discovery has been published in a paper called “Quantum Emission from Hexagonal Boron Nitride Monolayers” in the journal Nature Nanotechnology and can be found here.

Room-temperature quantum emitters have, until now, only been observed in a three dimensional material such as a diamond, putting a roadblock on any plans to get photons – a particle of light, rather than electrons, to process information when using such components in modern devices that contain chips. Thin, linear materials are necessary to make the next technological leap. Thin materials such as graphene, a thin layer of pure carbon, in the simplest of terms.

With this in mind, a group of four researchers from UTS Science have found a material that “emits a single pulse of a quantum light on dement, at room temperature,” according to a release in the UTS’ website.

The group of researchers at the Materials and Technology for Energy Efficiency routinely conduct experiments and “research in material physics at the nanoscale.”

Also read: Quantum Physicists Confirm Spooky Instant Correlations

Speaking about the material, a honeycomb structure of boron and nitrogen atoms, Associate Professor Mike Ford, a part of the team of four researchers has unsurprisingly deemed the material – unique.

It is atomically thin and is traditionally used as a lubricant; however upon careful processing it can emit quantized pulses of light—single photons that can carry information.

A hexagonal honeycomb grid.
A hexagonal honeycomb grid.

He also adds that optical computer chips are among the big goals for the group researchers and the wider arena of quantum computing research.

Electrons are used to carry information and sound in our modern devices such as mobile phones and computers. Photons would revolutionize computing speeds and would also run cooler, with
less heat generation.

Another member of the group, Associate Professor Igor Aharonovich contends that the single photon sources are brighter than any alternatives, guaranteeing quantum computation and completely secured communications.

He explains:

You can create very secure communication systems using single photons.

Each photon can be employed as a qubit (a quantum bit, a unit of quantum information, similar to a conventional electronic bit), but because one cannot eavesdrop on single photons, the information is secure.

The ultimate goal, according to group member Trong Toan Tran, a Ph.D. candidate, is to use the material in a plug-and-play device that generates single photons, on demand. He has good reason to look forward to it, going by the material found by the group.

“This material is very easy to fabricate,” he points out.

It’s a much more viable option because it can be used at room temperature; it’s cheap, sustainable and is available in large quantities.

Sticking with the hexagonal boron nitride, the group intends to create a plug and play prototype for scalable quantum technologies. Technologies that will usher in the age of quantum computing.

Images from Shutterstock.

Samburaj is the contributing editor at Hacked and keeps tabs on science, technology and cyber security.