‘Quantum Internet’ – Moving toward ‘Unhackable’ Communications and how Single Particles of Light could make it Possible: Purdue University – Next Step ‘On-Chip Circuitry’


towardunhack
Purdue researchers have created a new light source that generates at least 35 million photons per second, increasing the speed of quantum communication. Credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology image/Mikhail Shalaginov

Hacker attacks on everything from social media accounts to government files could be largely prevented by the advent of quantum communication, which would use particles of light called “photons” to secure information rather than a crackable code.

The problem is that quantum communication is currently limited by how much   can help send securely, called a “secret bit rate.” Purdue University researchers created a new technique that would increase the secret bit rate 100-fold, to over 35 million photons per second.

“Increasing the bit rate allows us to use single photons for sending not just a sentence a second, but rather a relatively large piece of information with extreme security, like a megabyte-sized file,” said Simeon Bogdanov, a Purdue postdoctoral researcher in electrical and computer engineering.

Eventually, a high  will enable an ultra-secure “quantum internet,” a network of channels called “waveguides” that will transmit single photons between devices, chips, places or parties capable of processing quantum information.

“No matter how computationally advanced a hacker is, it would be basically impossible by the laws of physics to interfere with these quantum communication channels without being detected, since at the quantum level,  and matter are so sensitive to disturbances,” Bogdanov said.

The work was first published online in July for inclusion in a print Nano Letters issue on August 8, 2018.

Using light to send information is a game of probability: Transmitting one bit of information can take multiple attempts. The more photons a light source can generate per second, the faster the rate of successful information transmission.

Toward unhackable communication: Single particles of light could bring the 'quantum internet'
The Purdue University Quantum Center, including Simeon Bogdanov (left) and Sajid Choudhury (right), is investigating how to advance quantum communication for practical uses. Credit: Purdue University image/Susan Fleck

“A source might generate a lot of photons per second, but only a few of them may actually be used to transmit information, which strongly limits the speed of quantum communication,” Bogdanov said.

For faster  , Purdue researchers modified the way in which a light pulse from a laser beam excites electrons in a man-made “defect,” or local disturbance in a crystal lattice, and then how this defect emits one  at a time.

The researchers sped up these processes by creating a new light source that includes a tiny diamond only 10 nanometers big, sandwiched between a silver cube and silver film. Within the nanodiamond, they identified a single defect, resulting from one atom of carbon being replaced by nitrogen and a vacancy left by a missing adjacent carbon atom.

The nitrogen and the missing atom together formed a so-called “nitrogen-vacancy center” in a diamond with electrons orbiting around it.

A metallic antenna coupled to this defect facilitated the interaction of photons with the orbiting electrons of the nitrogen-vacancy center, through hybrid light-matter particles called “plasmons.” By the center absorbing and emitting one plasmon at a time, and the nanoantenna converting the plasmons into photons, the rate of generating photons for  became dramatically faster.

“We have demonstrated the brightest single-photon source at room temperature. Usually sources with comparable brightness only operate at very low temperatures, which is impractical for implementing on computer chips that we would use at room temperature,” said Vlad Shalaev, the Bob and Anne Burnett Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Next, the researchers will be adapting this system for on-chip circuitry. This would mean connecting the plasmonic antenna with waveguides so that photons could be routed to different parts of the chip rather than radiating in all directions.

 Explore further: Physicists demonstrate new method to make single photons

More information: Simeon I. Bogdanov et al. Ultrabright Room-Temperature Sub-Nanosecond Emission from Single Nitrogen-Vacancy Centers Coupled to Nanopatch Antennas, Nano Letters (2018). DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b01415

Advertisements

Tiny camera lens may help link quantum computers to network


Tiny Camerra Lens 180913142057_1_540x360
Kai Wang holding a sample that has multiple metasurface camera lenses.
Credit: Lannon Harley, ANU

An international team of researchers led by The Australian National University (ANU) has invented a tiny camera lens, which may lead to a device that links quantum computers to an optical fibre network.

Quantum computers promise a new era in ultra-secure networks, artificial intelligence and therapeutic drugs, and will be able to solve certain problems much faster than today’s computers.

The unconventional lens, which is 100 times thinner than a human hair, could enable a fast and reliable transfer of quantum information from the new-age computers to a network, once these technologies are fully realised.

The device is made of a silicon film with millions of nano-structures forming a metasurface, which can control light with functionalities outperforming traditional systems.

Associate Professor Andrey Sukhorukov said the metasurface camera lens was highly transparent, thereby enabling efficient transmission and detection of information encoded in quantum light.

“It is the first of its kind to image several quantum particles of light at once, enabling the observation of their spooky behaviour with ultra-sensitive cameras,” said Associate Professor Sukhorukov, who led the research with a team of scientists at the Nonlinear Physics Centre of the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.

Kai Wang, a PhD scholar at the Nonlinear Physics Centre who worked on all aspects of the project, said one challenge was making portable quantum technologies.

“Our device offers a compact, integrated and stable solution for manipulating quantum light. It is fabricated with a similar kind of manufacturing technique used by Intel and NVIDIA for computer chips.” he said.

The research was conducted at the Nonlinear Physics Centre laboratories, where staff and postgraduate scholars developed and trialled the metasurface camera lens in collaboration with researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the United States and the National Central University in Taiwan.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Australian National UniversityNote: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kai Wang, James G. Titchener, Sergey S. Kruk, Lei Xu, Hung-Pin Chung, Matthew Parry, Ivan I. Kravchenko, Yen-Hung Chen, Alexander S. Solntsev, Yuri S. Kivshar, Dragomir N. Neshev, Andrey A. Sukhorukov. Quantum metasurface for multiphoton interference and state reconstructionScience, 2018; 361 (6407): 1104-1108 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aat8196

Novel Nano-Materials for Quantum Electronics and more …


novelnanomatThe use of redox-active organic molecules and magnetic metal ions as molecular building blocks for materials represents a new strategy towards novel types of 2D materials exhibiting both high electronic conductivity and magnetic order. Credit: Kasper Steen Pedersen and We Love People.

An international team led by Assistant Professor Kasper Steen Pedersen, DTU Chemistry, has synthesized a novel nano material with electrical and magnetic properties making it suitable for future quantum computers and other applications in electronics.

Chromium-chloride-pyrazine (chemical formula CrCl2(pyrazine)2) is a layered material, which is a precursor for a so-called 2-D material. In principle, a 2-D material has a thickness of just a single molecule and this often leads to properties very different from those of the same material in a normal 3-D version; not least of which, the electrical properties will differ. While in a 3-D material, electrons are able to take any direction, in a 2-D material they will be restricted to moving horizontally—as long as the wavelength of the electron is longer than the thickness of the 2-D layer.

Organic/inorganic hybrid

Graphene is the most well-known 2-D material. Graphene consists of  in a lattice structure, which yields its remarkable strength. Since the first synthesis of graphene in 2004, hundreds of other 2-D materials have been synthesized, some of which may be candidates for  electronics applications. However, the novel material is based on a very different concept. While the other candidates are all inorganic—just like graphene—chromium-chloride-pyrazine is an organic/inorganic hybrid material.

“The material marks a new type of chemistry, in which we are able to replace various building blocks in the material and thereby modify its physical and chemical properties. This cannot be done in graphene. For example, one can’t choose to replace half the carbon atoms in  with another kind of atom. Our approach allows designing properties much more accurately than known in other 2-D materials,” Kasper Steen Pedersen explains.

Novel nano material for quantum electronics
The use of redox-active organic molecules and magnetic metal ions as molecular building blocks for materials represents a new strategy towards novel types of 2D materials exhibiting both high electronic conductivity and magnetic order. Credit: Kasper Steen Pedersen and We Love People.

Besides the electrical properties, also the magnetic properties in Chromium-Chloride-Pyrazine can be accurately designed. This is especially relevant in relation to “spintronics”.

Watch a Video from Danish Technical Institute on ‘Nanomaterials for Printed Electronics

 

“While in normal electronics, only the charge of the electrons is utilized, But also electron spin—which is a quantum mechanical property—is used in . This is highly interesting for quantum computing applications. Therefore, development of nano-scale materials which are both conducting and magnetic is most relevant,” Kasper Steen Pedersen notes.

A new world of 2-D materials

Besides quantum computing, chromium-chloride-pyrazine may be of interest in future superconductors, catalysts, batteries, fuel cells, and electronics in general.

Companies are not keen to begin producing the material right away, the researcher stresses: “Not yet, at least! This is still fundamental research. Since we are suggesting a material synthesized from an entirely novel approach, a number of questions remain unanswered. For instance, we are not yet able to determine the degree of stability of the material in various applications. However, even if chromium-chloride-pyrazine should for some reason prove unfit for the various possible applications, the new principles behind its synthesis will still be relevant. This is the door to a new world of more advanced 2-D  opening up.”

 Explore further: New chemical method could revolutionize graphene

More information: Kasper S. Pedersen et al, Formation of the layered conductive magnet CrCl2(pyrazine)2 through redox-active coordination chemistry, Nature Chemistry (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41557-018-0107-7

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-09-nano-material-quantum-electronics.html#jCp

The reality of quantum computing could be … just three years away


Quantum computing has moved out of the realm of theoretical physics and into the real world, but its potential and promise are still years away.

Onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, a powerhouse in the world of quantum research and a young upstart in the field presented visions for the future of the industry that illustrated both how far the industry has come and how far the technology has to go.

For both Dario Gil, the chief operating officer of IBM Research and the company’s vice president of artificial intelligence and quantum computing, and Chad Rigetti, a former IBM researcher who founded Rigetti Computing and serves as its chief executive, the moment that a quantum computer will be able to perform operations better than a classical computer is only three years away.

“[It’s] generating a solution that is better, faster or cheaper than you can do otherwise,” said Rigetti. “Quantum computing has moved out of a field of research into now an engineering discipline and an engineering enterprise.”

Considering the more than 30 years that IBM has been researching the technology and the millions (or billions) that have been poured into developing it, even seeing an end of the road is a victory for researchers and technologists.

Achieving this goal, for all of the brainpower and research hours that have gone into it, is hardly academic.

The Chinese government is building a $10 billion National Laboratory for Quantum Information in Anhui province, which borders Shanghai and is slated to open in 2020. Meanwhile, the U.S. public research into quantum computing is running at around $200 million per year.

Source: Patin Informatics via Bloomberg News.

One of the reasons why governments, especially, are so interested in the technology is its potential to completely remake the cybersecurity landscape. Some technologists argue that quantum computers will have the potential to crack any type of encryption technology, opening up all of the networks in the world to potential hacking.

The quantum computing apocalypse is imminent

According to experts, quantum computers will be able to create breakthroughs in many of the most complicated data processing problems, leading to the development of new medicines, building molecular structures and doing analysis going far beyond the capabilities of today’s binary computers.

Of course, quantum computing is so much more than security. It will enable new ways of doing things we can’t even imagine because we have never had this much pure compute power. Think about artificial and machine learning or drug development; any type of operation that is compute-intensive could benefit from the exponential increase in compute power that quantum computing will bring.

Security may be the Holy Grail for governments, but both Rigetti and Gil say that the industrial chemical business will be the first place where the potentially radical transformation of a market will appear first.

What is quantum computing anyway?

To understand quantum computing it helps to understand the principles of the physics behind it.

As Gil explained onstage (and on our site), quantum computing depends on the principles of superposition, entanglement and interference.

A Turning Point For Quantum Computing

Quantum computing is moving from theory and experimentation into engineering and applications. But now that quantum computing is going mainstream, it is incumbent on businesses and governments to understand its potential, for universities to beef up their teaching programs in quantum computing and related subjects and for students to become aware of promising new career paths.

Superposition is the notion that physicists can observe multiple potential states of a particle. “If you a flip a coin it is one or two states,” said Gil. Meaning that there’s a single outcome that can be observed. But if someone were to spin a coin, they’d see a number of potential outcomes.

Once you’ve got one particle that’s being observed, you can add another and pair them thanks to a phenomenon called quantum entanglement. “If you have two coins where each one can be in superpositions and then you can have measurements can be taken” of the difference of both.

Finally, there’s interference, where the two particles can be manipulated by an outside force to change them and create different outcomes.

“In classical systems you have these bits of zeros and ones and the logical operations of the ands and the ors and the nots,” said Gil. “The classical computer is able to process the logical operations of bits expressed in zeros and ones.”

“In an algorithm you put the computer in a super positional state,” Gil continued. “You can take the amplitude and states and interfere them and the algorithm is the thing that interferes… I can have many, many states representing different pieces of information and then i can interfere with it to get these data.”

These operations are incredibly hard to sustain. In the early days of research into quantum computing the superconducting devices only had one nanosecond before a qubit transforms into a traditional bit of data. Those ranges have increased between 50 and 100 microseconds, which enabled IBM and Rigetti to open up their platforms to researchers and others to conduct experimentation (more on that later).

The physical quantum computer

As one can imagine, dealing with quantum particles is a delicate business. So the computing operations have to be carefully controlled. At the base of the machine is what basically amounts to a huge freezer that maintains a temperature in the device of 15 millikelvin — near absolute zero degrees and 180 times colder than the temperatures in interstellar space.

“These qubits are very delicate,” said Gil. “Anything from the outside world can couple to it and destroy its state and one way to protect it is to cool it.”

Wiring for the quantum computer is made of superconducting coaxial cables. The inputs to the computers are microwave pulses that manipulates the particles creating a signal that is then interpreted by the computers’ operators.

Those operators used to require a degree in quantum physics. But both IBM and Rigetti have been working on developing tools that can enable a relative newbie to use the tech.

Quantum computing in the “cloud”

Even as companies like IBM and Rigetti bring the cost of quantum computing down from tens of millions of dollars to roughly $1 million to $2 million, these tools likely will never become commodity hardware that a consumer buys to use as a personal computer.

Rather, as with most other computing these days, quantum computing power will be provided as a service to users.

Indeed, Rigetti announced onstage a new hybrid computing platform that can provide computing services to help the industry both reach quantum advantage — that tipping point at which quantum is commercially viable — and to enable industries to explore the technologies to acclimatize to the potential ways in which typical operations could be disrupted by it.

Rigetti announces its hybrid quantum computing platform — and a $1M prize

Rigetti, a quantum computing startup that is challenging the likes of IBM, Microsoft and Google in this nascent space, today at our TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018 event announced the launch of its new hybrid quantum computing platform. While Rigetti already offered API access to its quantum computing platform, this new service, dubbed Quantum Cloud Services … Continue reading

“A user logs on to their own device and use our software development kit to write a quantum application,” said Rigetti. “That program is sent to a compiler and kicks off an optimization kit that runs on a quantum and classical computer… This is the architecture that’s needed to achieve quantum advantage.”

Both IBM and Rigetti — and a slew of other competitors — are preparing users for accessing quantum computing opportunities on the cloud.

IBM has more than a million chips performing millions of quantum operations requested by users in over 100 countries around the world.

“In a cloud-first era I’m not sure the economic forces will be there that will drive us to develop the miniaturized environment in the laptop,” Rigetti said. But the ramifications of the technology’s commercialization will be felt by everyone, everywhere.

“Quantum computing is going to change the world and it’s all going to come in our lifetime, whether that’s two years or five years,” he said. “Quantum computing is going to redefine every industry and touch every market. Every major company will be involved in some capacity in that space.”

MIT: Fish-eye lens may entangle pairs of atoms – may be a promising vehicle for necessary building blocks in designing quantum computers


MIT-Fish-Eye_0

James Maxwell was the first to realize that light is able to travel in perfect circles within the fish-eye lens because the density of the lens changes, with material being thickest at the middle and gradually thinning out toward the edges.

Nearly 150 years ago, the physicist James Maxwell proposed that a circular lens that is thickest at its center, and that gradually thins out at its edges, should exhibit some fascinating optical behavior. Namely, when light is shone through such a lens, it should travel around in perfect circles, creating highly unusual, curved paths of light.

He also noted that such a lens, at least broadly speaking, resembles the eye of a fish. The lens configuration he devised has since been known in physics as Maxwell’s fish-eye lens — a theoretical construct that is only slightly similar to commercially available fish-eye lenses for cameras and telescopes.

Now scientists at MIT and Harvard University have for the first time studied this unique, theoretical lens from a quantum mechanical perspective, to see how individual atoms and photons may behave within the lens. In a study published Wednesday in Physical Review A, they report that the unique configuration of the fish-eye lens enables it to guide single photons through the lens, in such a way as to entangle pairs of atoms, even over relatively long distances.

Entanglement is a quantum phenomenon in which the properties of one particle are linked, or correlated, with those of another particle, even over vast distances. The team’s findings suggest that fish-eye lenses may be a promising vehicle for entangling atoms and other quantum bits, which are the necessary building blocks for designing quantum computers.

“We found that the fish-eye lens has something that no other two-dimensional device has, which is maintaining this entangling ability over large distances, not just for two atoms, but for multiple pairs of distant atoms,” says first author Janos Perczel, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Physics. “Entanglement and connecting these various quantum bits can be really the name of the game in making a push forward and trying to find applications of quantum mechanics.”

The team also found that the fish-eye lens, contrary to recent claims, does not produce a perfect image. Scientists have thought that Maxwell’s fish-eye may be a candidate for a “perfect lens” — a lens that can go beyond the diffraction limit, meaning that it can focus light to a point that is smaller than the light’s own wavelength. This perfect imaging, scientist predict, should produce an image with essentially unlimited resolution and extreme clarity.

However, by modeling the behavior of photons through a simulated fish-eye lens, at the quantum level, Perczel and his colleagues concluded that it cannot produce a perfect image, as originally predicted.

“This tells you that there are these limits in physics that are really difficult to break,” Perczel says. “Even in this system, which seemed to be a perfect candidate, this limit seems to be obeyed. Perhaps perfect imaging may still be possible with the fish eye in some other, more complicated way, but not as originally proposed.”

Perczel’s co-authors on the paper are Peter Komar and Mikhail Lukin from Harvard University.

A circular path

Maxwell was the first to realize that light is able to travel in perfect circles within the fish-eye lens because the density of the lens changes, with material being thickest at the middle and gradually thinning out toward the edges. The denser a material, the slower light moves through it. This explains the optical effect when a straw is placed in a glass half full of water. Because the water is so much denser than the air above it, light suddenly moves more slowly, bending as it travels through water and creating an image that looks as if the straw is disjointed.

In the theoretical fish-eye lens, the differences in density are much more gradual and are distributed in a circular pattern, in such a way that it curves rather bends light, guiding light in perfect circles within the lens.

In 2009, Ulf Leonhardt, a physicist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel was studying the optical properties of Maxwell’s fish-eye lens and observed that, when photons are released through the lens from a single point source, the light travels in perfect circles through the lens and collects at a single point at the opposite end, with very little loss of light.

“None of the light rays wander off in unwanted directions,” Perczel says. “Everything follows a perfect trajectory, and all the light will meet at the same time at the same spot.”

Leonhardt, in reporting his results, made a brief mention as to whether the fish-eye lens’ single-point focus might be useful in precisely entangling pairs of atoms at opposite ends of the lens.

“Mikhail [Lukin] asked him whether he had worked out the answer, and he said he hadn’t,” Perczel says. “That’s how we started this project and started digging deeper into how well this entangling operation works within the fish-eye lens.”

Playing photon ping-pong

To investigate the quantum potential of the fish-eye lens, the researchers modeled the lens as the simplest possible system, consisting of two atoms, one at either end of a two-dimensional fish-eye lens, and a single photon, aimed at the first atom. Using established equations of quantum mechanics, the team tracked the photon at any given point in time as it traveled through the lens, and calculated the state of both atoms and their energy levels through time.

They found that when a single photon is shone through the lens, it is temporarily absorbed by an atom at one end of the lens. It then circles through the lens, to the second atom at the precise opposite end of the lens. This second atom momentarily absorbs the photon before sending it back through the lens, where the light collects precisely back on the first atom.

“The photon is bounced back and forth, and the atoms are basically playing ping pong,” Perczel says. “Initially only one of the atoms has the photon, and then the other one. But between these two extremes, there’s a point where both of them kind of have it. It’s this mind-blowing quantum mechanics idea of entanglement, where the photon is completely shared equally between the two atoms.”

Perczel says that the photon is able to entangle the atoms because of the unique geometry of the fish-eye lens. The lens’ density is distributed in such a way that it guides light in a perfectly circular pattern and can cause even a single photon to bounce back and forth between two precise points along a circular path.

“If the photon just flew away in all directions, there wouldn’t be any entanglement,” Perczel says. “But the fish-eye gives this total control over the light rays, so you have an entangled system over long distances, which is a precious quantum system that you can use.”

As they increased the size of the fish-eye lens in their model, the atoms remained entangled, even over relatively large distances of tens of microns. They also observed that, even if some light escaped the lens, the atoms were able to share enough of a photon’s energy to remain entangled. Finally, as they placed more pairs of atoms in the lens, opposite to one another, along with corresponding photons, these atoms also became simultaneously entangled.

“You can use the fish eye to entangle multiple pairs of atoms at a time, which is what makes it useful and promising,” Perczel says.

Fishy secrets

In modeling the behavior of photons and atoms in the fish-eye lens, the researchers also found that, as light collected on the opposite end of the lens, it did so within an area that was larger than the wavelength of the photon’s light, meaning that the lens likely cannot produce a perfect image.

“We can precisely ask the question during this photon exchange, what’s the size of the spot to which the photon gets recollected? And we found that it’s comparable to the wavelength of the photon, and not smaller,” Perczel says. “Perfect imaging would imply it would focus on an infinitely sharp spot. However, that is not what our quantum mechanical calculations showed us.”

Going forward, the team hopes to work with experimentalists to test the quantum behaviors they observed in their modeling. In fact, in their paper, the team also briefly proposes a way to design a fish-eye lens for quantum entanglement experiments.

“The fish-eye lens still has its secrets, and remarkable physics buried in it,” Perczel says. “But now it’s making an appearance in quantum technologies where it turns out this lens could be really useful for entangling distant quantum bits, which is the basic building block for building any useful quantum computer or quantum information processing device.”

We’re Close to a Universal Quantum Computer, Here’s Where We’re At: YouTube Video


Quantum Computer II p0193ctw

Quantum computers are just on the horizon as both tech giants and startups are working to kickstart the next computing revolution.

 

Watch More:

U.S. Nuclear Missiles Are Still Controlled By Floppy Disks – https://youtu.be/Y8OOp5_G-R4

Read More: Quantum Computing and the New Space Race http://nationalinterest.org/feature/q… “In January 2017, Chinese scientists officially began experiments using the world’s first quantum-enabled satellite, which will carry out a series of tests aimed at investigating space-based quantum communications over the course of the next two years.”

Quantum Leap in Computer Simulation https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articl… “Ultimately it will help us understand and test the sorts of problems an eventually scaled-up quantum computer will be used for, as the quantum hardware is developed over the next decade or so.”

How Quantum Computing Will Change Your Life https://www.seeker.com/quantum-comput… “The Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics kicked off a new season of live-

Why Do Most Science Startups Fail? Here’s Why …


Science Start ups fail why getty_629009118_355815

“We need to get a lot better at bridging that gap between discovery and commercialization”

G. Satell – Inc. Magazine

It seems like every day we see or hear about a breakthrough new discovery that will change everything. Some, like perovskites in solar cells and CRISPR are improvements on existing technologies. Others, like quantum computing and graphene promise to open up new horizons encompassing many applications. Still others promise breakthroughs in Exciting Battery Technology Breakthrough News — Is Any Of It Real? or Beyond lithium — the search for a better battery

Nevertheless, we are still waiting for a true market impact. Quantum computing and graphene have been around for decades and still haven’t hit on their “killer app.” Perovskite solar cells and CRISPR are newer, but haven’t really impacted their industries yet. And those are just the most prominent examples.

bright_idea_1_400x400The problem isn’t necessarily with the discoveries themselves, many of which are truly path-breaking, but that there’s a fundamental difference between discovering an important new phenomenon in the lab and creating value in the marketplace.

“We need to get a lot better at bridging that gap. To do so, we need to create a new innovation ecosystem for commercializing science.”

The Valley Of Death And The Human Problem

The gap between discovery and commercialization is so notorious and fraught with danger that it’s been unaffectionately called the “Valley of Death.” Part of the problem is that you can’t really commercialize a discovery, you can only commercialize a product and those are two very different things.

The truth is that innovation is never a single event, but a process of discovery, engineering and transformation. After something like graphene is discovered in the lab, it needs to be engineered into a useful product and then it has to gain adoption by winning customers in the marketplace. Those three things almost never happen in the same place.

So to bring an important discovery to market, you first need to identify a real world problem it can solve and connect to engineers who can transform it into a viable product or service. Then you need to find customers who are willing to drop whatever else they’ve been doing and adopt it on a large scale. That takes time, usually about 30 years.

The reason it takes so long is that there is a long list of problems to solve. To create a successful business based on a scientific discovery, you need to get scientists to collaborate effectively with engineers and a host of specialists in other areas, such as manufacturing, distribution and marketing. Those aren’t just technology problems, those are human problems. Being able to collaborate effectively is often the most important competitive advantage.

Wrong Industry, Wrong Application

One of the most effective programs for helping to bring discoveries out of the lab is I-Corps. First established by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help recipients of SBIR grants identify business models for scientific discoveries, it has been such an extraordinary success that the US Congress has mandated its expansion across the federal government.

Based on Steve Blank’s lean startup methodology, the program aims to transform scientists into entrepreneurs. It begins with a presentation session, in which each team explains the nature of their discovery and its commercial potential. It’s exciting stuff, pathbreaking science with real potential to truly change the world.

The thing is, they invariably get it wrong. Despite their years of work to discover something of significance and their further efforts to apply and receive commercialization grants from the federal government, they fail to come up with a viable application in an industry that wants what they have to offer. professor-with-a-bright-idea-vector-937691

Ironically, much of the success of the I-Corps program is due to these early sessions. Once they realize that they are on the wrong track, they embark on a crash course of customer discovery, interviewing dozens — and sometimes hundreds — of customers in search of a business model that actually has a chance of succeeding.

What’s startling about the program is that, without it, scientists with important discoveries often wasted years trying to make a business work that never really had a chance in the first place.

The Silicon Valley Myth

Much of the success of Silicon Valley has been based on venture-funded entrepreneurship. Startups with an idea to change the world create an early stage version of the product they want to launch, show it to investors and get funding to bring it to market. Just about every significant tech company was started this way.

Yet most of the success of Silicon Valley has been based on companies that sell either software or consumer gadgets, which are relatively cheap and easy to rapidly prototype. Many scientific startups, however, do not fit into this category. Often, they need millions of dollars to build a prototype and then have to sell to industrial companies with long lead times.

start up imagesThe myth of Silicon Valley is that venture-funded entrepreneurship is a generalizable model that can be applied to every type of business. It is not. In fact, it is a specific model that was conceived in a specific place at a specific time to fund mature technologies for specific markets. It’s not a solution that fits every problem.

The truth is that venture funds are very adept with assessing market risk, but not so good at taking on technology risk, especially in hard sciences. That simply isn’t what they were set up to do.

We Need A New Innovation Ecosystem For Science Entrepreneurship

In 1945, Vannevar Bush delivered a report, Science, The Endless Frontier, to President Truman, in which he made the persuasive argument that expanding the nation’s scientific capacity will expand its economic capacity and well being. His call led, ultimately, to building America’s scientific infrastructure, including programs like the NSF and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

It was Bush’s vision that made America a technological superpower. Grants from federal agencies to scientists enabled them to discover new knowledge. Then established businesses and, later, venture backed entrepreneurs would then take those discoveries to bring new products and services to market.

Look at any industry today and its most important technologies were largely shaped by investment from the federal government. Today, however, the challenges are evolving. We’re entering a new era of innovation in which technologies like genomics, nanotechnology and robotics are going to reshape traditional industries like energy, healthcare and manufacturing.

That’s exciting, but also poses new challenges, because these technologies are ill-suited to the Silicon Valley model of venture-funded entrepreneurship and need help to them get past the Valley of Death. So we need to build a new innovation ecosystem on top of the scientific architecture Bush created for the post-war world.

There have been encouraging signs. New programs like I-Corps, the Manufacturing InstitutesCyclotron Road and Chain Reaction are beginning to help fill the gap.

Still much more needs to be done, especially at the state and local level to help build regional hubs for specific industries, if we are going to be nearly as successful in the 21st century as were were in the 20th.

Cape-Starman

MIT and HARVARD Update: PHYSICS CREATES NEW FORM OF LIGHT THAT COULD DRIVE THE QUANTUM COMPUTING REVOLUTION


The discovery that photons can interact could be harnessed for quantum computing. PHOTO: CHRISTINE DANILOFF/MIT

For the first time, scientists have watched groups of three photons interacting and effectively producing a new form of light.

In results published in Science, researchers suggest that this new light could be used to perform highly complex, incredibly fast quantum computations.

Photons are tiny particles that normally travel solo through beams of light, never interacting with each other. But in 2013 scientists made them clump together in pairs, creating a new state of matter. This discovery shows that interactions are possible on a greater scale.

“It was an open question,” Vladan Vuletic from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who led the team with Mikhail Lukin from Harvard University, said in a statement. “Can you add more photons to a molecule to make bigger and bigger things?”

The scientists cooled a cloud of rubidium atoms to an ultralow temperature to answer their question. This slowed the atoms down till they were almost still. A very faint laser beam sent just a few photons through the freezing cloud at once.

The photons came out the other side as pairs and triplets, rather than just as individuals.

Photons flit between atoms like bees among flowers.

The researchers think the particles might flit from one nearby atom to another as they pass through the rubidium cloud—like bees in a field of flowers.

These passing photons could form “polaritons”—part photon, part atom hybrids. If more than one photon passes by the same atom at the same time, they might form polaritons that are linked.

As they leave the atom, they could stay together as a pair, or even a triplet.

“What’s neat about this is, when photons go through the medium, anything that happens in the medium, they ‘remember’ when they get out,” said co-author Sergio Cantu from MIT.

This whole process takes about a millionth of a second.

Read About: MIT Researchers Link Photons

The future of computing

This research is the latest step toward a long-fabled quantum computer, an ultra-powerful machine that could solve problems beyond the realm of traditional computers. Your desktop PC would, for example, struggle to solve the question: “If a salesman has lots of places to visit, what is the quickest route?”

“[A traditional computer] could solve this for a certain number of cities, but if I wanted to add more cities, it would get much harder, very quickly,” Vuletic previously stated in a press release.

Read more: What did the Big Bang look like? The physics of light during the formation of the universe

Light, he said, is already used to transmit data very quickly over long distances via fiber optic cables. Being able to manipulate these photons could enable the distribution of data in much more powerful ways.

The team is now aiming to coerce photons in ways beyond attraction. The next stop is repulsion, where photons slam into each other and scatter.

“It’s completely novel in the sense that we don’t even know sometimes qualitatively what to expect,” Vuletic says. “With repulsion of photons, can they be such that they form a regular pattern, like a crystal of light? Or will something else happen? It’s very uncharted territory.”

ICN2 researchers compute unprecedented values for spin lifetime anisotropy in graphene – Faster Devices at a Fraction of Energy Costs


Researchers of the ICN2 Theoretical and Computational Nanoscience Group, led by ICREA Prof. Stephan Roche, have published another paper on spin, this time reporting numerical simulations for spin relaxation in graphene/TMDC heterostructures.

Published in Physical Review Letters this week, spintronics researchers of the ICN2 Theoretical and Computational Nanoscience Group led by ICREA Prof. Stephan Roche have gleaned potentially game-changing insight into the mechanisms governing spin dynamics and relaxation in graphene/TMDC heterostructures. Not only do their models give a spin lifetime anisotropy that is orders of magnitude larger than the 1:1 ratio typically observed in 2D systems, but they point to a qualitatively new regime of spin relaxation.

Spin relaxation is the process whereby the spins in a spin current lose their orientation, reverting to a natural disordered state. This causes spin signal to be lost, since spins are only useful for transporting information when they are oriented in a certain direction.

This study reveals that the rate at which spins relax in graphene/TMDC systems depends strongly on whether they are pointing in or out of the graphene plane, with out-of-plane spins lasting tens or hundreds of times longer than in-plane spins. Such a high ratio has not previously been observed in graphene or any other 2D material.

In the paper, aptly titled “Giant Spin Lifetime Anisotropy in Graphene Induced by Proximity Effects”, lead author Aron Cummings reports that this behaviour is mediated by the spin-valley locking induced in graphene by the TMDC, which ties the lifetime of in-plane spin to the intervalley scattering time. This causes in-plane spin to relax much faster than out-of-plane spin.

Furthermore, the numerical simulations suggest that this mechanism should come into play in any substrate with strong spin-valley locking, including the TMDCs themselves.

Effectively inducing a spin filter effect –the ability to sort or tweak spin orientations–, these findings give reason to believe that it might one day be possible to manipulate, and not just transport, spin in graphene.

These simulations have since been borne out experimentally by colleagues in the ICN2 Physics and Engineering of Nanodevices Group, led by ICREA Prof. Sergio Valenzuela. Paper coming soon.

Background:

Spintronics is a branch of electronics that uses the spin of subatomic particles like electrons to store and transport information. It promises devices that are faster, operate at a fraction of the energy cost and have vastly superior memories. However, establishing a spin current is not a straightforward process. First, because spin in its natural state is disordered; that is, the spin axes are pointing in any number of directions. They must first be polarised to tune their orientation.

Then, even once polarised, the spins can lose this orientation easily in a process known as spin relaxation, which limits the lifetime and therefore usefulness of spin currents in practice.

Enter graphene, very much the material of the moment and not without good reason: this 2D material boasts a series of properties that make it uniquely suited for maintaining spin orientation over long lifetimes. However, its low spin-orbit coupling (SOC) makes it ineffective for manipulating spin.

The solution adopted in spintronics is to create layered heterostructures, harnessing the spin transport properties of graphene and a second high SOC material in a single system. This works through the proximity effect, whereby graphene becomes imprinted with the properties of the second material, and has been proven experimentally with 2D magnetic insulators and transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs).

In this work, researchers have studied spin relaxation in such layered graphene/TMDC heterostructures in a bid to shed some light on the as yet unexplored mechanisms governing spin relaxation in these systems. Spin lifetime anisotropy is the ratio of out-of-plane to in-plane spin lifetimes, and is used as a measurement of these mechanisms. What they find is a unique mechanism enabled by the specific proximity effect of TMDCs on graphene.

Article reference:

A.W. Cummings, J.H. García, J. Fabian, and S. Roche. Giant Spin Lifetime Anisotropy in Graphene Induced by Proximity Effects. Physical Review Letters 2017, Vol. 119, p. 206601. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.119.206601

For more information:

Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2)

Marketing and Communication Department

Àlex Argemí, Head of Marketing and Communication

alex.argemi@icn2.cat; +34 937 372 607: +34 635 861 543

Rachel Spencer, Science Writer and Communications Officer

rachel.spencer@icn2.cat; +34 937 372 671

ICN2

Why This New Quantum Computing Startup Has a Real Shot at Beating Its Competition


A startup called Quantum Circuits plans to compete with the likes of IBM, Google, Microsoft, and Intel to bring quantum computing out of the lab and into the wider world.

There’s one good reason to think it might be able to beat them all.

That’s because Quantum Circuits was founded by Robert Schoelkopf, a professor at Yale, whose work in many ways has helped kick-start this exciting new era of quantum advances.

Quantum computers exploit two strange features of quantum physics, entanglement and superposition, to process information in a fundamentally different way from traditional computers.

The approach allows the power of such machines to scale dramatically with even just a few quantum bits, or qubits. Those racing to build practical quantum computers are nearing the point where quantum machines will be capable of doing things that no conventional machine could—an inflection point known as quantum supremacy.

The promise of reaching such a milestone has transformed the field from a mostly academic endeavor into a high-stakes competition between the research arms of several big companies and a few startups. And everyone is using the superconducting circuits Schoelkopf pioneered.

He and colleagues were the first to create a “quantum bus” for entangling qubits using wires, as well as the first to demonstrate quantum algorithms and error correction techniques for quantum circuits.

Quantum Circuits’s other two founders are Michel Devoret, a professor of applied physics at Yale, and Luigi Frunzio, a research scientist in Schoelkopf’s lab (all three are in the photo above, with Frunzio, Schoelkopf, and Devoret starting from left).

“No team has done more to pioneer the superconducting approach,” Isaac Chuang, an MIT professor working on quantum computing and an advisor to the company, said in a release issued by Yale. “[The people behind Quantum Circuits] are responsible for a majority of the breakthroughs in solid-state quantum computing in the past decade.”

SOURCE: YALE UNIVERSIT