A new path toward sending and receiving information with single photons of light has been discovered by an international team of researchers led by the University of Michigan. Their experiment demonstrated the possibility of using an effect known as nonlinearity to modify and detect extremely weak light signals, taking advantage of distinct changes to a quantum system to advance next generation computing. 

Today, as silicon-electronics-based information technology becomes increasingly throttled by heating and energy consumption, nonlinear optics is under intense investigation as a potential solution. The quantum egg carton captures and releases photons, supporting “excited” quantum states while it possesses the extra energy. As the energy in the system rises, it takes a bigger jump in energy to get to that next excited state—that’s the nonlinearity.

“We demonstrated a new type of hybrid state to bring us to that regime, linking light and matter through an array of quantum dots,” she added.

The physicists and engineers used a new kind of semiconductor to create quantum dots arranged like an egg carton. Quantum dots are essentially tiny structures that can isolate and confine individual quantum particles, such as electrons and other, stranger things. These dots are the pockets in the egg carton. In this case, they confine excitons, quasi-particles made up of an electron and a “hole.” A hole appears when an electron in a semiconductor is kicked into a higher energy band, leaving a positive charge behind in its usual spot. If the hole shadows the electron in its parallel energy band, the two are considered as a single entity, an exciton.

You may read the rest of the article written by Kate McAlpine, Michigan Engineering Senior Writer & Assistant News Editor here.

More Information:

Professor Hui Deng

Deng Research Lab

Professor Steve Forrest

Optoelectronic Components and Materials Group