01 July 2008

Researchers want to gain ultimate control over light

In a new project at DTU and the University of Copenhagen, researchers will try to control the smallest components of light – photons. This can be used to develop the future’s supercomputers and to make codes that are completely unbreakable.

The project is supported by the VILLUM KANN RASMUSSEN FOUNDATION with ten million Danish crowns and is organised as a collaboration between Associate Professor Anders S. Sørensen of the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen, Associate Professor Ulrik Andersen with the Department of Physics at DTU, and Associate Professor Peter Lodahl from the Department of Photonics Engineering at DTU.

In the project, the researchers will pursue a completely new method to control light. With the help of modern nanotechnology one can make nanowires that can focus light much stronger than has previously been possible. This provides many advantages and new possibilities for experiments.

For example, researchers want to use this focusing of light to get photons to exchange information with artificial atoms. Such a coupling will make it possible to code information in a radically new way, utilizing quantum mechanics. It is anticipated that this coupling could be used in future quantum computers, which could be used to perform complicated and comprehensive calculations, which are impossible to do with conventional computers. They could also be used to send information with codes that are absolutely unbreakable. Another possible use is in optical communication where one could create photon transistors. These are analogous to the transistors that control all the electronics that surround us, with the exception of those that work with light instead of electricity and therefore provides opportunity for a much larger information band width.

The project is based on a theory that has recently been developed by Associate Professor Anders S. Sørensen in cooperation with researchers from Harvard University. This theory is a completely new angle of approach to the problem of controlling light and preliminary experiments indicate that the principles behind the theory work.

The project will receive 10 million Danish crowns over 4 years from the VILLUM KANN RASMUSSEN FOUNDATION.