Theses Doctoral

Nonlinear Photonics for Room-Temperature Quantum Metrology and Information Processing

Zhao, Yun

Photons are robust carriers of quantum information as they can propagate long distances without losing quantum entanglement and coherence. Compared to quantum information in matter-based carriers, such as superconducting oscillators, trapped ions and atoms, quantum dots, and vacancy centers in crystals, the photonic quantum states are robust against perturbations from the environment, such as parasitic electromagnetic fields and thermal fluctuations (phonons), making it an ideal candidate for room-temperature-based quantum metrology and information processing applications. Such robustness is due to photon-photon scattering in the vacuum being extremely improbable and photon-atom interactions being in the linear regime for most materials. Nevertheless, photon-photon or photon-atom nonlinear interactions are also critical for all quantum photonic applications as nonlinearity is required for generating non-classical states of light. Furthermore, nonlinear interactions greatly expand the variety of Hamiltonian that can be engineered for a given system or subsystem, which is a direct measure of the system's functionality. Thus, the ability to engineer nonlinear interactions has been one of the primary research focuses in quantum photonics. This thesis presents research on using nonlinear photonic chips to harness the unique properties offered by quantum mechanics, with applications in precision metrology and information procession.

Atoms possess a rich set of quantum properties that have no counterparts in the classical world. Even in warm vapor form, atomic gases maintain sufficient coherence for tasks, including time keeping, electric field sensing and quantum memories. We develop chip-based light sources that can interact with narrow-band atomic transitions in order to miniaturize these applications. Typical Alkali atoms have transition around the visible light regime, where photonic materials exhibit strong normal group-velocity dispersion (GVD) which inhibits light generation via nonlinear interactions. We offer a systematic solution by re-examining the dispersion engineer techniques, which revealed that higher-order waveguide modes can have stronger anomalous GVD. With this technique, we demonstrate on-chip mode-locked pulses (Kerr combs) at a record-low wavelength, which can be used for high-precision atomic clocks. We also develop chip-based narrow-band high-brightness photon sources at the visible regime using nonlinear interactions. Such photons can interact with atom-based quantum memories and gates, which can find applications in both quantum communication and computation.

Squeezed state is also an important class of non-classical states with key applications in quantum metrology, quantum simulation, and continuous-variable quantum information processing. Typically, squeezed states are generated using χ² processes, which are not readily available on most photonic platforms. For the first time, we demonstrate squeezed state generation using a dual-pumped four-wave-mixing process, which we implement on a silicon-nitride chip.

To perform quantum simulation or computation with squeezed states, we need programmable interferometer arrays and photon-number resolving (PNR) detectors. Current PNR detectors rely on superconducting effects which require Kelvin level temperatures. We propose a room-temperature PNR scheme based on optical nonlinearity. We show that using cascaded χ² interactions, a single photon can impart an observable phase on a probe beam, which can be implemented within the current fabrication capabilities. Our squeezed-state-generation and PNR-detection devices lay a practical path towards room-temperature quantum simulation and computing.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Electrical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Gaeta, Alexander L.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 8, 2022