How quantum physics could help lasers perform better in fog and aid communications

The military could be first in line to benefit from advances in laser technology. — AFP Relaxnews

A team of researchers at Washington University in St Louis has drawn on quantum physics to develop a new generation of lasers capable of operating efficiently in challenging conditions, such as in fog.

It's thanks to the use of quantum technology that researchers were able to improve the performance of lasers, making them particularly useful in challenging conditions. Indeed, communications and other laser-based technologies can be hampered by adverse conditions such as fog, extreme temperatures or long distances.

Here, the researchers have based their work on entanglement between photons, a fundamental property of quantum physics whereby two photons are correlated in such a way that the state of one instantaneously affects the state of the other.

As such, these so-called photonic dimers use quantum effects to bind photons together, increasing their energy and efficiency to generate a powerful and concentrated beam of light. These photonic dimers improve the precision and resolution of optical systems, particularly under challenging conditions. As a result, all information collected and transmitted will be more precise and therefore more reliable.

"Photons encode information when they travel, but the travel through the atmosphere is very damaging to them" says Jung-Tsung Shen, who is helming this research. "When two photons are bound together, they still suffer the effects of the atmosphere, but they can protect each other so that some phase information can still be preserved."

The team of researchers, led by Jung-Tsung Shen, will now set about creating different states of two-colour dimers at a rate of up to a million pairs per second, the likes of which has never been seen before.

This research has been partly funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the US Department of Defense. The US military could therefore be the first beneficiary of this new technology, which could one day revolutionise the fields of surveillance and communications, including for civilians. – AFP Relaxnews

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