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article imageAccelerating the communications highway with structured light

By Tim Sandle     Jan 5, 2020 in Science
Structured light, relating to a light-based quantum network, promises the means to achieve faster and more secure communications, according to a new study.
The new research involves optimizing quantum mechanics (science dealing with the behavior of matter and light) through using patterns of light in order to create an alphabet which can be leveraged to create a fast, efficient and secure light-based quantum network. By working with structured light in quantum protocols, a research team have developed a complex encoding alphabet with more information being carried per photon.
As lead researcher Dr. Andrew Forbes says: "Light comes in a variety of patterns that can be made unique -- like our faces." This is based on the fact that as patterns of light can be distinguished from each other, these forms can be used as a type of alphabet.
The use of light in this way creates a means of communication whereby security is more robust, and the interference to noise (like background light fluctuations) is considerably reduced. With the communications element, this is undertaken between nodes, made possible through quantum key distribution protocols.
Light dispersion of a mercury-vapor lamp with a prism made of flint glass.
Light dispersion of a mercury-vapor lamp with a prism made of flint glass.
D-Kuru (CC BY-SA 3.0 AT)
The nodes are necessary in order to both generate and detect photons entangled in differing patterns (with individual patterns representing individual codes of the alphabet).
The study forms part of a wider investigation into photonic quantum states, where the harnessing quantum states and entangled states, is being considered for quantum inspired sensing, metrology, imaging, computation, as well as for communication.
The research has been published in the journal Quantum Science, where the research paper is titled "Quantum mechanics with patterns of light: Progress in high dimensional and multidimensional entanglement with structured light."
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