Friday, February 23, 2024

NASA’s Quantum Detector Achieves World-Leading Milestone

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Quantum computers hold the promise of operating millions of times faster than conventional computers. But to communicate over long distances, quantum computers will need a dedicated quantum communications network.

To help form such a network, a device has been developed by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech that can count huge numbers of single photons – quantum particles of light – with incredible precision. Like measuring individual droplets of water while being sprayed by a firehose, the Performance-Enhanced Array for Counting Optical Quanta (PEACOQ) detector is able to measure the precise time each photon hits it, within 100 trillionths of a second, at a rate of 1.5 billion photons per second. No other detector has achieved that rate.

“Transmitting quantum information over long distances has, so far, been very limited,” said PEACOQ project team member Ioana Craiciu, a postdoctoral scholar at JPL and the lead author of a study describing these results. “A new detector technology like the PEACOQ that can measure single photons with a precision of a fraction of a nanosecond enables sending quantum information at higher rates, farther.”

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