Researchers at Tyndall National Institute develop scalable, electrically driven photon sources to drive powerful quantum technologies
Quantum computing is heralded as the next revolution in terms of global computing. Google, Intel and IBM are just some of the big names investing millions currently in the field of quantum computing which will enable faster, more efficient computing required to power the requirements of our future computing needs.
Now a researcher and his team at Tyndall National Institute in Cork have made a ‘quantum leap’ by developing a technical step that could enable the use of quantum computers sooner than expected.
Conventional digital computing uses ‘on-off’ switches, but quantum computing looks to harness quantum state of matters – such as entangled photons of light or multiple states of atoms – to encode information. In theory, this can lead to much faster and more powerful computer processing, but the technology to underpin quantum computing is currently difficult to develop at scale.
Researchers at Tyndall have taken a step forward by making quantum dot light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that can produce entangled photons (whose actions are linked), theoretically enabling their use to encode information in quantum computing.
This is not the first time that LEDs have been made that can produce entangled photons, but the methods and materials described in the new paper have important implications for the future of quantum technologies, explains researcher Dr Emanuele Pelucchi, Head of Epitaxy and Physics of Nanostructures and a member of the Science Foundation Ireland-funded Irish Photonic Integration Centre (IPIC) at Tyndall National Institute in Cork.
“The new development here is that we have engineered a scalable array of electrically driven quantum dots using easily-sourced materials and conventional semiconductor fabrication technologies, and our method allows you to direct the position of these sources of entangled photons,” he says.
“Being able to control the positions of the quantum dots and to build them at scale are key factors to underpin more widespread use of quantum computing technologies as they develop.”
The Tyndall technology uses nanotechnology to electrify arrays of the pyramid-shaped quantum dots so they produce entangled photons. “We exploit intrinsic nanoscale properties of the whole “pyramidal” structure, in particular, an engineered self-assembled vertical quantum wire, which selectively injects current into the vicinity of a quantum dot,” explains Dr Pelucchi.
“The reported results are an important step towards the realisation of integrated quantum photonic circuits designed for quantum information processing tasks, where thousands or more sources would function in unison.”
Microelectronic Circuits Centre Ireland collaborates with Boston Scientific to develop novel integrated circuits for next generation implantable medical devices.
In collaboration with Boston Scientific, the Microelectronic Circuits Centre Ireland (MCCI) an EI/IDA funded Technology Centre hosted at Tyndall National Institute, has developed an innovative multi-function programmable electronic chip designed to enable heart pacemakers that can be smaller, more efficient and more convenient for patients.
The nano-watt power biomedical Integrated Circuit (IC) includes power management, a flexible microprocessor interface and therapy monitoring, that supports pacemaker and neuro-stimulation therapy applications. The prototype chip also incorporates a novel instrumentation amplifier to allow pacemaker devices to more effectively sense bio-potential signals.
“We have combined the pacemaker and other novel circuits into a single chip in order to make them smarter, more sensitive and more power-efficient, in addition to reducing form factor” explains Donnacha O’Riordan, MCCI Executive Director. “The programmable Integrated Circuit uses separate channels on a single chip for sensing the activity of the heart and for setting the pace of beating. This research will enable smaller implantable pacemakers in the future, which would result in less invasive procedures to implant them and the devices would need to be replaced less frequently, firmly establishing MCCI as a center of excellence for bio-medical microelectronics research.”
MCCI and Boston Scientific collaborated on the research program through a two-year Innovation Partnership supported by Enterprise Ireland and led by Gerry McGlinchey and Dr Ivan O’Connell at MCCI.
“The project has brought together the engineering and circuit-design expertise at MCCI and the medical and scientific expertise of researchers at Boston Scientific,” said Mr O’Riordan. “We look forward to building on this relationship in the next phase of our collaboration with Boston Scientific.”
Tyndall National Institute at UCC in Cork, Ireland named for John Tyndall, scientist, is one of Europe’s leading research centres, specialising in ICT hardware research, commercialisation of technology and the education of next generation researchers.
Tyndall has over 450 researchers, engineers, students and support staff focused on research and the commercialisation of technology through industry collaboration. Tyndall’s research spans a range of technologies from atoms to systems in the areas of photonics, microsystems and micro-nanoelectronics and addresses key challenges in the areas of Communications, Energy, Health and the Environment. Queen Elizabeth II visited the research centre as part of her state visit to Ireland on 20 May 2011.