Sensors are undoubtedly one of the most important modern inventions, providing crucial data in various fields such as healthcare, structural monitoring, chemical reactions, the aerospace sector, etc. Photonic quantum sensing has revolutionized the sensing industry as it has led to an increase in the efficiency and performance of modern sensors. The diverse applications of photonic quantum sensing ensure that it will surely do wonders in the measurement and data-gathering domains.
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A Brief Introduction to Photonic Quantum Sensing
Photonic quantum sensing utilizes the principles of quantum mechanics in conjunction with photonics for precision sensing and detection. The traditional optical approach has some noteworthy limitations in terms of resolution and accuracy. However, the applications of quantum phenomena such as quantum superposition and quantum entanglement to photons enable photonic quantum sensing to surpass its counterparts in efficiency.
Which Quantum Mechanics Phenomena Make Photonic Quantum Sensing the Better Choice?
In photonic quantum sensing, photons utilized for sensing purposes exhibit quantum superposition. These photons can exist in multiple energy levels at the same time, enabling them to capture the atomic level variations intricately, increasing the precision of the photonic quantum sensing process.
The entanglement-based photonic quantum sensing processes are also gaining popularity all over the world. The quantum entanglement of two or more particles leads to a correlation of their properties even if there exists a large distance between them. This attribute is used in photonic quantum sensing for obtaining sensing data by observation of entangled particles.
At the end of last year, researchers observed that using entanglement, multiple sensors could be implemented in a photonic quantum sensing network for the development of a single united device. The use of entangled atoms in networked photonic quantum sensing setups has led to a threefold increase in precision.
Additionally, the quantum interference phenomena also play a vital role in photonic quantum sensing applications, particularly in improving the precision of measurements.
Applications and Processes of Photonic Quantum Sensing
The emerging applications of the photonic quantum sensing domain from a theoretical and experimental point of view have been discussed in an article published in Nature Photonics.
As per the article, photonic quantum sensing, along with enhancing the quantum reading of classical data, can also increase the efficiency of the detection of remote objects. In 2015, the concept of Gaussian quantum illumination was expanded into the microwave spectrum, offering a prototype for the development of quantum radar.
The article mentions that photonic quantum sensing has been shown to sense and measure the distance between two point-like sources with constant precision. This distance is measured accurately by the photonic quantum sensing system even when the points are at sub-wavelength distances. This was possible by the incorporation of principles of quantum estimation theory into the working scheme of photonic quantum sensing.
Nanowire-based Integrated Photonic Quantum Sensing
Single-photon emitters and detectors are the building blocks of quantum photonic sensing and information processing systems. The use of nanowire-based quantum hardware in modern photonic quantum sensing systems has been highlighted in Nanophotonics.
Integrated photonic quantum sensing is undoubtedly a dependable and economically viable option as compared to traditional bulk optics. However, the compatibility issues are a real concern for the integrated photonic quantum sensing systems. While individual components of photonic quantum sensing systems have progressed significantly, these components often lack compatibility with each other, or their integration may lead to substantial reductions in performance.
Significant development has been made in the field of superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors (SNSPDs), particularly for the development of standard fiber-coupled devices. Superconducting nanowire photonic quantum sensors are often integrated into photonic waveguides with a traveling wave structure or placed within planar photonic crystal cavities. This ensures a massive boost in sensing efficiency.
Integrated Photonic Quantum Sensing for Climate Research
Quite recently, NASA has collaborated with the University of Austin to focus on the advancement of photonic quantum sensing technology for understanding climate change and its adverse effects.
Collaborators at the Quantum Pathways Institute are actively engaged in the development of photonic quantum sensing technology specially designed for optimizing the orbiting satellites in gathering data regarding how atoms respond to minor alterations in their surroundings. The information collected by the photonic quantum sensing systems will be utilized by the scientists for measuring the effects of sea-level rises, melting of glaciers, and thermal changes.
Photonic Quantum Sensing Providing a New Perspective to Quantum Metrology
Quantum metrology stands out as a highly promising area within quantum technologies. This research field is dedicated to the precise estimation of unknown parameters by effective utilization of quantum resources, which are much more efficient and optimized than conventional counterparts.
Photonic quantum sensing systems are efficient tools for metrological purposes. Quite recently, quantum-enhanced clock synchronization and quantum-enhanced magnetometers equipped with photonic quantum sensing technology have been utilized for metrology purposes, providing higher efficiency and better responses.
Apart from this, photonic quantum sensing is essential for quantum communication phenomena. It aids in the development of secure quantum communication links. Quantum entanglement occurring in the photonic quantum sensing systems offers unbreakable encryption to the data flow, enhancing security and privacy. Furthermore, the modern navigation tools will also be equipped with modern photonic quantum sensing technology for accurate positioning of objects.
There is no doubt that the applications of photonic quantum sensing are manifold for the medical industry, environmental sciences, space applications, and materials sciences. The development of chip-based photonic quantum sensing technology will open a new door for modern innovations, especially in the domains of navigation and sensing of variations in pre-determined conditions.
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References and Further Reading
Choi, Q., (2022). Entangling Quantum Sensors Can Triple Accuracy. [Online]
Available at: https://spectrum.ieee.org/quantum-sensors-entanglement
Pirandola, S. et al. (2019). Advances in photonic quantum sensing. Nature Photon 12, 724–733. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41566-018-0301-6
Photonics Media, (2023). Integrated Photonic Quantum Sensing Takes Aim at Climate Research. [Online]
Available at: https://www.photonics.com/Articles/Integrated_Photonic_Quantum_Sensing_Takes_Aim_at/a68878
Chang, J. et. al. (2023). Nanowire-based integrated photonics for quantum information and quantum sensing. Nanophotonics. 12(3). 339-358. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1515/nanoph-2022-0652