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  • Writer's pictureDavid Mitlyng

Weekly Takeaways-October 26,2023

Theme of the Week

The Alchemy of Light In the olden days, alchemists were obsessed with turning lead into gold. They did not understand that lead and gold were different atomic elements. Today's scientists can actually make that conversion - but only with sophisticated manipulation at the atomic level. The same advancement is happening with the building blocks of light – the photon (see below). Throughout history light was easy to create - all you need is fire or a hot glowing material - but wasn't well understood. That changed in 1905 when Albert Einstein proposed the existence of discrete (quanta) energy packets of light that he called Lichtquanta, later named the photon. Thus was born the world of photonics, which led to the development of lasers and fiber optics. Unlike normal light sources, lasers created coherent (orderly) streams of photons of a specific wavelength for sensing and transmitting information and energy. And the evolution continues as we get more sophisticated in actually creating and manipulating the quantum properties of individual photons, a field broadly known as quantum communications. Today you can buy sources of single and photon pairs (transmitter), single photon detectors (receiver), and the equipment necessary to manipulate their polarization, time and energy. This can be used to generate truly random numbers, securely exchange random encryption keys, and even transfer time. And it opens the door to incredible new pie-in-the-sky applications like quantum radar, quantum imaging, quantum telescopes, and the quantum internet. But it is early days for the world of quantum communications - there are applications yet undiscovered. If you are interested in learning more about the difference between quantum communications, sensing, and computing, check out this presentation. Last Week's Theme: Security through Quantum Mechanics

  • Colorado was announced as a U.S. Tech Hub for quantum technology (check out this promotional video), with support from the Xairos team, including being part of:

    • The Elevate Quantum team contributor to the proposal

    • The Colorado Quantum Convening with the Colorado Governor last month

  • The quantum delegation to Finland last year

  • Awarded a Colorado Advanced Industries grant from the Colorado Office of Economic Development

  • Preparing for presentation at the International Timing and Sync Forum titled "Quantum Time Transfer." Stay tuned for a recording of the presentation!

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The More You Know...

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, straight up into the night sky is a bright star named Deneb. While it may look like a small twinkling dot of white light, it is actually made up of millions of individual packets of light, known as photons. And these photons from Deneb have been on quite a journey – formed hundreds of thousands of years ago and traveled another 2600 years just to reach your eye. Your eyeball actually has the capability to detect a single photon – the original single photon detector – but it needs to receive many photons at once to send a signal to the brain – more like an avalanche photodiode. But if you could see an individual photon, you would notice it isn’t white. That white twinkling star is an illusion created by a combination of photons of many other colors based on their wavelengths. That color/wavelength dictates the energy of the photon, and its speed if it travels through a medium (like the atmosphere, water, or the glass of fiber optics). While photons of all colors travel the same speed in the vacuum of space, they slow down when traveling through any material. This particular photon was likely created by the release of energy from Deneb’s nuclear reactions, only for that energy to be absorbed by your eye in that moment thousands of years later. Such is the life cycle of the photon. To learn more, please email us or schedule a meeting here.



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