iPad app helps optical tweezers

March 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Optics researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Glasgow have developed an iPad application for accurate, easy and intuitive use of optical tweezers.

Optical tweezers are used to manipulate tiny particles through the use of highly focused laser beams and are at the heart of much molecular biology. The team of researchers overcame the limitations of computer mouse and joy-stick controlled systems by designing of an iPad app to make it much easier to manipulate multiple particles in more directions.

The new multi-touch-based application allows researchers a clear representative 3D view of particle systems and offers a range of techniques, like pinching the screen or tilting the iPad, for moving single and multi-particles left and right, up and down, and to rotate them.

Due to the iPad’s wireless capability, the app will also help with regards laser safety and avoiding experiment contamination.

“Our iPad-based interface allows intuitive control of a holographic optical tweezers system using a dedicated application on the iPad and a modified version of our tweezers’ control software running on a host PC,” said the researchers in their paper published today. “The interface is responsive and easy to use, so even inexperienced users can trap particles, move them around and translate the microscope stage.”

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Bristol team builds optical components for quantum computing

March 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Quantum Circuits Based on MMI Devices

A research group led by scientists from the University of Bristol has demonstrated the quantum operation of new components that will enable compact circuits for future photonic quantum computers and is starting to build the components.

Building a quantum computer will require a large number of interconnected components – gates – which work in a similar way to the microprocessors in current personal computers. Currently, most quantum gates are large structures and the bulky nature of these devices prevents scalability to the large and complex circuits required for practical applications.

Recently, the researchers from the University of Bristol’s Centre for Quantum Photonics showed, in several important breakthroughs, that quantum information can be manipulated with integrated photonic circuits. Such circuits are compact (enabling scalability) and stable (with low noise) and could lead in the near future to mass production of chips for quantum computers.

Now the team, in collaboration with Dr Terry Rudolph at Imperial College, London, shows a new class of integrated divides that promise further reduction in the number of components that will be used for building future quantum circuits.

These devices, based on optical multimode interference (and therefore often called MMIs) have been widely employed in classical optics as they are compact and very robust to fabrication tolerances. “While building a complex quantum network requires a large number of basic components, MMIs can often enable the implementation with much fewer resources,” said Alberto Peruzzo, the PhD student working on the experiment.

Until now it was not clear how these devices would work in the quantum regime. Bristol researchers have demonstrated that MMIs can perform quantum interference at the high fidelity required.

Scientists will now be able to implement more compact photonics circuits for quantum computing. MMIs can generate large entangled states, at the heart of the exponential speedup promised by quantum computing.

“Applications will range from new circuits for quantum computation to ultra precise measurement and secure quantum communication,” said Professor Jeremy O’Brien, director of the Centre for Quantum Photonics.

The team now plans to build new sophisticated circuits for quantum computation and quantum metrology using MMI devices.

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