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Nov 22nd, 2012
 
Mechanical oscillator ‘interprets’ optical signals
 
Physicists at the University of Oregon used a theorized “dark mode” to convert an optical field, or signal, from one color to another.
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In the case of quantum computing, getting different quantum systems, or nodes, to understand each other is a significant challenge because each system communicates with photons of distinct wavelengths, or colors. But a “dark mode” that converts an optical field, or signal, from one color to another could be just the interpreter needed in efforts to build and connect quantum computers.

Color conversion will be crucial for networking quantum systems and for building a quantum Internet where photons carry information, said University of Oregon physics professor Hailin Wang, a member of the Oregon Center for Optics and leader of the research group that made the discovery.

“Optomechanical systems can be used to store light and change its color — operations that are important for a quantum network,” said Chunhua Dong, a postdoctoral research associate in Wang’s lab and co-author of a report on the experiment.

To change the color of a light pulse, the physicists coupled tiny radiation pressure forces generated by light circulating inside a glass microsphere to the mechanical breathing motion of the microsphere. Exciting a mechanical vibration through the optomechanical coupling generates a new light pulse at the desired color.

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