Enabling quantum communications

Modern communication systems are trying to address two, sometimes opposing, requirements: high data-bandwidth and security. 

As quantum computers become a reality, it is only quantum science that provides guaranteed security of communication.  

We are designing the performance critical components required for the next generation of these communication system networks. 

Detectors that count single photons  

At the heart of all quantum systems based on light are the detectors that can count single photons. The efficiency at which they do this while simultaneously eliminating false counts dictates the performance of these quantum systems and the security of any communication channel.  

We use the superconducting materials to detect the small change in temperature that any photon produces when it is absorbed.   

These detectors outperform all other technologies, especially when the light is at the infra-red wavelengths needed for communication systems. 

Germanium for infra-red detectors

Traditional technologies for infra-red detectors all rely on exotic and expensive materials. In contrast detectors for visible light use silicon.  

We are modifying these silicon detectors to include thin layers of Germanium. This uses the same cheap manufacturing techniques but extends the performance of the detectors to the infra-red at vastly reduced cost.  

We are working with Toshiba and others to use this technology to make the 3D imaging cameras required for autonomous transport. 

New systems for quantum communication 

We are pioneering new types of quantum communication systems.  

We are experimenting with using light further into the infrared. These longer wavelengths are essential if quantum communication is to be extended from short range systems operating on the ground to longer range satellite-based systems. 

We are also exploring how the individual photons upon which quantum communication depends can be shaped in their cross section so that even a single photon can carry lots of information.  

If successful, this will allow quantum communication systems to combine the desire for high data-bandwidth, while also maintaining the guaranteed security of quantum encryption.