Two teams of scientists from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have collaborated to conduct groundbreaking research leading to the development of a new and innovative scientific field: Quantum Metamaterials. The findings are presented in a new joint paper published by the prestigious journal Science (“Quantum entanglement of the spin and orbital angular momentum of photons using metamaterials”).
The study was jointly conducted by Distinguished Professor Mordechai Segev, of the Technion’s Physics Department and Solid State Institute and his team Tomer Stav and Dikla Oren, in collaboration with Prof. Erez Hasman of the Technion’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and his team Arkady Faerman, Elhanan Maguid, and Dr. Vladimir Kleiner. Both groups are also affiliated with the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute (RBNI).
The researchers have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to apply metamaterials to the field of quantum information and computing, thereby paving the way for numerous practical applications including, among others, the development of unbreakable encryptions, as well as opening the door to new possibilities for quantum information systems on a chip.
Metamaterials are artificially fabricated materials, made up of numerous artificial nanoscale structures designed to respond to light in different ways. Metasurfaces are the 2 dimensional version of metamaterials: extremely thin surfaces made up of numerous subwavelength optical nanoantennas, each designed to serve a specific function upon the interaction with light.
While to date, experimentation with metamaterials has widely been limited to manipulations using classical light, the Technion researchers have for the first time shown it is experimentally feasible to use metamaterials as the building blocks for quantum optics and quantum information. More specifically, the researchers have demonstrated the use of metamaterials to generate and manipulate entanglement – which is the most crucial feature of any quantum information scheme.
“What we did in this experiment is to bring the field of metamaterials to the realm of quantum information,” says Dist. Prof. Moti Segev, one of the founders of the Helen Diller Quantum Science, Matter and Engineering Center at the Technion. “With today’s technology, one can design and fabricate materials with electromagnetic properties that are almost arbitrary. For example, one can design and fabricate an invisibility cloak that can conceal little things from radar, or one can create a medium where the light bends backwards. But so far all of this was done with classical light. What we show here is how to harness the superb abilities of artificial nano-designed materials to generate and control quantum light.”