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UPENN Seed: Adding new dimensions to quantum communication

graphic of the hyperdimensional spin–orbit laserA way to make communication and computing devices faster, better, and less noisy is to use more kinds of information and combine them in new ways. Quantum communication uses light particles that can be in many states at the same time. These states are different features of light particles, and they can only show one state when someone looks at them, making them hard to spy on or copy.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have made a microfabricated laser using semiconductor fabrication methods that can control two features of the light particles: their orbit and their spin. This allows them to make light particles with four states simultaneously. These higher-dimensional quantum bits (qudits) can store more information and better avoid noise. They can also make quantum communication more secure and faster and allow more secure communications.

The hyperdimensional spin–orbit laser: Today’s quantum communication devices use qubits, which can store two kinds of information at the same time. But this is not enough to hold much information or avoid noise. This study reports the development of an on-chip microfabricated laser that makes qudits, which are light particles with four kinds of information simultaneously. The more kinds of information, the better the quantum communication device can work in the real world.

Zhang, Z., Zhao, H., Wu, S., Wu, T., Qiao, X., Gao, Z., Agarwal, R., Longhi, R., Litchinitser, N.M., Ge, L., Feng, L. Nature 612, 246-251 (2022).