Quantum nanoPhotonics Lab, University of Southampton

Quantum nanoPhotonics Lab

The ABC of Quantum nanoPhotonics


Time and space are modes by which we think and not conditions in which we live.” 

― Albert Einstein ― 


Classical Physics vs Quantum Mechanics

Classical Physics describes the behaviour of objects in everyday life, such as an apple falling down a tree. But objects at the nanoscopic scale (thousands times smaller than a human hair), such as atoms and electrons, behave in a fundamentally different way. Quantum Mechanics is the field of physics that describes this behavior. For example, electrons bounded to nuclei to form atoms cannot be explained with classical physics. One of the strangest aspects of quantum mechanics is that nanoscopic objects have both particle-like and wave-like behavior (even if electrons are always found as individuals, they can show interference phenomena). Other counter-intuitive effects, like superposition (objects being in different states at the same time) and entanglement (multiple objects with properties strongly correlated even when they are separated), make the quantum theory so strange that even Einstein was uncomfortable with it. However, after almost 100 years from its development, quantum mechanics is arguably the physical theory with the highest level of agreement with experiments.

What is Quantum Information?

The idea behind Quantum Information is to use all the counter-intuitive effects present in quantum mechanics to develop technologies that can surpass the capabilities of what is possible using classical devices. This will include computers that can solve particular problems exponentially faster than classical PCs, machines that will be able to simulate complex physical systems (like new materials or drugs), measurement devices that can achieve precisions behind the limits imposed by classical physics, and communication schemes that will provide absolutely secure information transmissions.

Why Quantum Photonics matters?

Light is composed by quanta of energy called photons. Like other objects at the nanoscale, photons behave sometime like a particle and sometime like a wave, and have to be described using quantum mechanics. For this reason it is possible to study Quantum Technologies based on light to achieve quantum information tasks (as mentioned above). However, seeing quantum effects is not always easy. Like when we look at the behavior of many electrons, we mainly observe collective effects (like electric currents), also with photons we usually see just classical light effects (i.e. light rays). Usually we have to arrange our experiments to have the right light states (single photons or other strange non-classical states) to see quantum effects. In the QnP Lab, we study devices to enable a greater range of quantum photonic states to be generated, manipulated and detected to develop new quantum technologies. This also requires the use of integrated devices produced with advanced nano-fabrication techniques to obtain small, complex chips (in the same way nano-fabrication in electronics can produce the chips we have in computers or smartphones).

What is a Quantum Computer?

Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics) can easily explain it in less than 7 minutes 

And if you want to know more about Quantum Entanglement

Quantum Mechanics and Art 

The Surrealism of Quantum Mechanics from Sonia Lange on Vimeo.