Scientists at the Leiden Institute of Technology are working on a new technology for manipulating light using artificial atoms called Quantum dots. Although the manipulation of light has already been accomplished using real atoms, this is an advancement in the development of light-based quantum technology. The technology finds potential uses in the areas of Quantum computing, transistors, solar cells, medical imaging and many more applications.

Quantum dots (QD)

QD are a very diminutive kind of semiconducting nano particles of only a few nanometers.

This kind of small particle emits light of varied frequencies when a beam of light is pointed at them. The frequencies of light emitted may vary, depending on the size, shape, and material of which a given dot is made of, with larger dots emitting longer wavelengths and smaller dots emitting shorter wavelengths, allowing to use them in many applications.

Tiny packages of light

Discrete packages of light travel through a laser pointer when pointed at a screen or other target. These packages of light contain a great number of light particles that displace through the air at great speeds. They don´t travel in a stream like normal light does but in discrete packages of photons. One cannot notice the photons travelling; however, for light-based quantum technology, it´s important for a scientist to have control over the quantity of photons in each package.

QD are easy to manipulate

Theoretically one can manipulate photons using real atoms, however, due to their microscopic size, it´s not easy to interact with them. Scientists have discovered that manipulating photons can also be practiced in a macro scale setting using quantum dots (artificial atoms), which are much easier to handle.

A great advantage of working with quantum dots is that they can be manipulated in microseconds, allowing to manipulate photons at a faster rate.

According to Prof, Dirk Bouwmeester who led the research, the main objective is to entangle a number of quantum dots. This would allow the development of techniques in security solutions such as quantum cryptography.

The great advantage of this technique is that unlike classical methods it permits the accomplishment of a number of cryptography tasks that would result impossible using only typical binary systems. Other applications include quantum computing and transistor.