Scientists glue together light particles to create a military 'quantum laser'

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded $1 million to researchers to create a 'quantum laser' for military purposes.

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A team of researchers has been awarded $1 million to construct a "quantum laser" for the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Scientists glue together light particles to create a military 'quantum laser' 561156156

According to reports, DARPA has awarded Jung-Tsung Shen, associate professor in the Preston M. Green Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering, with a two-year $1 million grant to construct what is officially called a "quantum photonic-dimer laser." The new quantum laser will be capable of creating a powerful and concentrated beam of light that can be tailored to specific types of atmospheric environments, such as fog.

Traditional forms of lasers would otherwise struggle in fog, but using the power of quantum entanglement, the new laser could be used for military applications such as surveillance and secure communications in unfavorable environments. So, how does it work? Quantum entanglement is the correlation between photons or light particles. When a photon travels through the atmosphere it damages them, but when they are entangled with another photon, they are able to protect each other more efficiently and thus retaining vital information.

"Photons encode information when they travel, but the travel through the atmosphere is very damaging to them," Shen said. "When two photons are bound together, they still suffer the effects of the atmosphere, but they can protect each other so that some phase information can still be preserved."

Shen's lab discovered when he "glued" two photons of different colors they formed a photonic dimer, which can be tailored to specific atmospheres. The glued photons form a much more concentrated beam of light that has increased energy and efficiency.

"The unique thing about this project is its dual focus on generating these novel strongly correlated quantum photonic states and developing the theoretical framework and advanced algorithms for their efficient detection, potentially revolutionizing quantum imaging and communication," Shen said.

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