Crazy for Quantum Communications
“If anybody says he can think about quantum physics without getting giddy, that only shows he has not understood the first thing about them.” – Niels Bohr
Prepare to get your “giddy” on. Photonics Media goes quantum this month, with an exciting article in this issue as well as a webinar scheduled for Feb. 16 that will feature a presentation on the subject by MIT professor Jeffrey H. Shapiro.
Advances in detectors and sources have brought quantum communication to the brink of commercial rollout, according to contributing editor Hank Hogan, but he cautions that technical issues remain, including increasing transmission distance or building a quantum repeater – and these must be worked out.
“Photonics plays a key role in this technology,” Hogan writes, “thanks to the ability to impose a quantum state on particles of light and to detect that state at a point many miles away.” Although there is a clear need for the technology, questions linger about the commercial viability of quantum key distribution, the most ready application. Read the article “Quantum Communication Is Ready for Its Close-Up,” beginning on page 44.
On Feb. 16, Photonics Media will present a webinar focused on photonics in communication, featuring Shapiro, the Julius A. Stratton Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT. His research interests center on the application of communication theory to optical systems. He is best known for his work on the generation, detection and application of squeezed-state light beams, but he also has published extensively in the areas of atmospheric optical communication, coherent laser radar and quantum information science.
“Recent development of nonclassical light sources – whose photodetection statistics require the use of quantum theory – plus increasing interest in optics-based approaches to quantum information processing, necessitates a thorough understanding of the similarities and distinctions between the semiclassical and quantum theories of optical communication,” Shapiro said.
In 2008, he was co-recipient of the Quantum Electronics Award from the IEEE Lasers and Electro-Optics Society (now the IEEE Photonics Society) and also received the Quantum Communication Award for Theoretical Research from Tamagawa University of Japan.
Shapiro’s webinar presentation, “The Quantum Theory of Optical Communications,” offers what he describes as “a brief primer” on the topic, for which no prior knowledge of quantum optics is required.
To register for the webinar, go to photonics.com.
As Edmund Optics rolled out its 70th anniversary commemoration, the industry paused to remember the company’s founder, Norman W. Edmund. News of Edmund’s death came in mid-January. Back in October 2006, Photonics Media carried an item about the company that talked about its early days:
“In 1942, after Norman W. Edmund had a hard time finding a lens he needed, he did what any amateur photographer would do: He decided to publish a surplus optics catalog. A year later, the first Edmund catalog was mailed, targeted to hobbyists and educators.”
Read more about Edmund’s life and company, and his impact on the industry, on page 38.
- quantum optics
- The area of optics in which quantum theory is used to describe light in discrete units or ‘quanta’ of energy known as photons. First observed by Albert Einstein’s photoelectric effect, this particle description of light is the foundation for describing the transfer of energy (i.e. absorption and emission) in light matter interaction.
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