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Physicists mimic quantum entanglement with laser pointer to double data speeds

Date:
October 29, 2015
Source:
City College of New York
Summary:
In a classic eureka moment, a team of physicists is showing how beams from ordinary laser pointers mimic quantum entanglement with the potential of doubling the data speed of laser communication.
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The shape and polarization of a conventional laser beam from a laser pointer mimics quantum entanglement when the laser beam has a polarization dependent shape. This can be used to encode twice as many bits of information as when the laser beam is "separable."
Credit: Giovanni Milione

In a classic eureka moment, a team of physicists led by The City College of New York and including Herriot-Watt University and Corning Incorporated is showing how beams from ordinary laser pointers mimic quantum entanglement with the potential of doubling the data speed of laser communication.

Quantum entanglement is a phrase more likely to be heard on popular sci-fi television shows such as "Fringe" and "Doctor Who." Described by Albert Einstein as "spooky action at a distance," when two quantum things are entangled, if one is 'touched' the other will 'feel it,' even if separated by a great distance.

"At the heart of quantum entanglement is 'nonseparability' -- two entangled things are described by an unfactorizable equation," said City College PhD student Giovanni Milione. "Interestingly, a conventional laser beam (a laser pointer)'s shape and polarization can also be nonseparable."

To make the laser beam's shape and polarization nonseparable, the researchers transformed it into what Milione refers to as a vector beam -- a polarization dependent shape. Then using off-the-shelf components to 'touch' only its polarization, they showed it could be encoded as two bits of information. Surprisingly, this was twice as much information that could be encoded as when the laser beam was separable.

"In principal, this could be used to double the data speed of laser communication," said CCNY Distinguished Professor of Phyiscs Robert Alfano. ""While there's no 'spooky action at a distance,' it's amazing that quantum entanglement aspects can be mimicked by something that simple."


Story Source:

Materials provided by City College of New York. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Giovanni Milione, Thien An Nguyen, Jonathan Leach, Daniel A. Nolan, Robert R. Alfano. Using the nonseparability of vector beams to encode information for optical communication. Optics Letters, 2015; 40 (21): 4887 DOI: 10.1364/OL.40.004887

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City College of New York. "Physicists mimic quantum entanglement with laser pointer to double data speeds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 October 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151029101510.htm>.
City College of New York. (2015, October 29). Physicists mimic quantum entanglement with laser pointer to double data speeds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 24, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151029101510.htm
City College of New York. "Physicists mimic quantum entanglement with laser pointer to double data speeds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151029101510.htm (accessed May 24, 2017).

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