Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition

Researchers from CQP and QE-CDT manning the stand for the first half of the week
The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition is one of the largest events in the outreach calendar and is attended by thousands. Scientists from all over the UK are invited to display their cutting-edge research during the week-long event. After a competitive application process, the Centre for Quantum Photonics was invited to explain the weird and wonderful world of quantum computing, as one of only 22 exhibits.

Team from the second half of the week enjoying the soirée
Our exhibit took the public on journey to discover how we control light, why we want to use it to create more powerful computers and how the strange world of quantum mechanics will get us there. The first part of the display illustrated how our technology relies on the same physical processes as superfast broadband, confining light using total internal reflection.

A simulation of the "quantum Christmas tree" produced if you send a quantum object through the Galton board (left) instead of sending a normal ball (right)
We then demonstrated how quantum mechanics can explore problems in unfamiliar ways. By using a Galton box, we showed how quantum particles will take different routes to those we'd normally expect. By using these properties, we can solve problems such as how to efficiently plan your holiday! Finally, we let the public get their hands on one of the latest quantum devices straight from our lab. By finely tuning on-chip heaters, we can choose which path single particles of light take, allowing us to perform quantum computation.

CQP researchers explained the importance of their research to Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire
On two of the evenings, we joined fellows and invited guests at black tie soirées. VIPs included quantum photonics pioneer, Sir Peter Knight, broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili and Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire.

Eminent science communicator Jim Al-Khalili enjoys learning about Bristol's work in quantum technologies
Outreach events are fundamental to inspiring the next generation of scientists, and communicating to a general audience the importance of our research. If you would like to find out more about our research visit http://www.bristol.ac.uk/physics/research/quantum/

Friday, 7 July 2017

QET Labs at Cheltenham Science Festival 2017

QETLabs researchers and PhD students showed the public demonstrations of optics and its use in encrypted communication systems (pictured above: Lawrence Rosenfeld).

Cheltenham Science Festival is one of the UKs largest public engagement science exhibitions, which has had attendance of 45,000 visitors at previous events. This year’s festival saw researchers from QETLabs showcasing a variety of demonstrations.

Organiser and researcher Henry Semenenko engaging a young scientist in message encryption

Researcher Jake Kennard (left) and organiser and researcher Alasdair Price (right) ready to decode!

QET Labs students and researchers Henry Semenenko and Alasdair Price organised demonstrations ranging from explaining the fundamental properties of light such as polarisation, and how we use it in sunglasses and 3D cinema glasses, to addressing current affairs of hacking encrypted messages and securing communications against malicious adversaries.

Pictured: PhD student Ben Slater

The exhibit was well received, engaged with a large number of people and was popular with schools, children and adults from all types of non-technical backgrounds. Many were interested in how optics and quantum technologies work and how it will impact their lives in the near future.

A demonstration showing the birefringent properties of sticky tape observed through a linear polariser.

Outreach events are fundamental to inspiring the next generation of scientists, and communicating to a general audience the importance of our research. If you would like to find out more about our research visit http://www.bristol.ac.uk/physics/research/quantum/.

Pictured: PhD student Sam Morley-Short

Thursday, 6 July 2017

QET Labs at Bristol's Festival of Nature 2017

Students from the Quantum Engineering CDT taught the public about light and colour at Bristol’s Festival of Nature this weekend.

The CDT’s 3rd cohort, led by Cohort 1 student Euan Allen (pictured above), attended the event on Saturday and Sunday to demonstrate the effects of microstructures on colour in nature using butterfly wings, beetle shells, and several other naturally iridescent substances.

The event, which attracts thousands to Bristol harbourside annually, aims to educate the public about nature, conservation, and the environment.

Cohort 3 students (from left to right) João Diniz, Giorgos Eftaxias, Rachel Chadwick, George Atkinson, Jorge Ruz, and Ross Wakefield pose in front of their demonstration.

Festival of Nature demo

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Day 3 of the Bristol Quantum Information Technologies (BQIT) workshop

Almut Beige (University of Leeds) and her talk "from optical cavities to cavity-fibre networks"

BQIT:17's third and final day saw the workshop draw to a close with another sunny day of talks on detectors, hybrid platforms and integrated photonics.

Kicking things off was Sae Woo Nam from NIST. Sae Woo explained two projects around the subject of superconducting nanowire single photon detectors (SNSPDs): one which showed a detection efficiency when used in practice of over 93%, and another on SNSPDs integrated into waveguides. He finished talking about some work with Dave Wineland integrating these detectors with ion traps. University of Münster's Wolfram Pernice followed this by speaking about developing SNSPDs which are capable of detecting single photons in plane, making them suitable for waveguides.

The first solid state & hybrid systems session began with Almut Beige from the University of Leeds, who explained how we can better understand how to couple optical cavities from working out the Hamiltonian of a beam splitter. She was followed by the University of Bristol's own Ruth Oulton discussing her group's work using a quantum dot to switch the polarisation of a single photon, where they were able to achieve 80% efficiency. Sven Hofling from the University of Wurzburg concluded this segment talking about using quantum dots as single photon sources.

After lunch, the integrated quantum photonics section started with Sébastien Tanzilli from the University of Nice, who explained their recent results on generating two-photon N00N states. These states were then used to measure chromatic dispersion in an optical fibre with more than twice the precision even though there were sixty times as fewer photons. This was followed by the Raffaele Santagati from the University of Bristol. Raffaele introduced WAVES, a witness assisted eigenvalue solver capable of successfully estimating phase with an error of ​ radians, even in the presence of noise.

The final talks of the workshop formed our second session on hybrid & solid state systems. Jason Smith from the University of Oxford, spoke about coupling photons in microcavities with NV centres in nanodiamond, producing a 97% purity room temperature single photon source. Finally, Peter Humphreys from Delft University of Technology explained work on using entanglement distillation to create better entangled NV centres, as a step towards a large scale quantum network following their 13km Bell violation.

Proceedings were closed by Professor John Rarity FRS, director of QET Labs.

Thank you to everyone who joined us this year and for helping to make our workshop a success.

Save the date for next year's BQIT workshop: 18-20 April 2018

Our workshop venue, M Shed, on Bristol's harbourside
For photos of BQIT:17 please visit: https://flic.kr/s/aHskXQyBRM
Videos of all of our talks from the workshop are also available at: http://bit.ly/2ozTd5j
For information on upcoming events, or for more information and queries please email us at bqit-admin@bristol.ac.uk

Day 2 of the Bristol Quantum Information Technologies (BQIT) workshop

Our BQIT student helpers (left to right) Jorge Monroy Ruz, Caterina Vigliar and Ben Slater

Day 2 of QET Labs' fourth annual Bristol Quantum Information Technologies (BQIT) saw another sunny day of talks related to quantum technologies.

The quantum information theory stream kicked off with the University of Bristol's Ashley Montanaro, detailing two recent algorithms to provide quadratic speedups for backtracking and Monte Carlo methods. This was followed by Ulm University's Martin Plenio, who talked about efficient ways of performing quantum state tomography, resulting in being able to experimentally demonstrate efficient state tomography for 20 trapped ions. Laura Mancinska, also of the University of Bristol, concluded this topic with a talk on how to verify that a state you are given is entangled.

A coffee break precluded Winfried Hensinger of the University of Sussex, who began the scaling up theme by explaining the background of ion trap quantum computing, before introducing his blueprint for constructing a large-scale quantum computer. This was followed by the University of Technology Sydney's Michael Bremner describing the notion of instantaneous quantum polynomial time, and his collaboration with Google to determine what exactly is needed to reach quantum supremacy in the near future.

After lunch, the metrology session began with ICFO's Morgan Mitchell, who explained how to achieve spin states which are squeezed in multiple components, thus beating the quantum limit. These states could then be used to help with gravitational wave detection. Alex Lvovsky from the University of Calgary followed up by highlighting several of his group's experiments, showing some of the many things you can do with a Schroedinger's cat state.

A session on continuous variable quantum photonics began with Akira Furusawa from the University of Tokyo describing the work by his group to develop continuous variable quantum teleportation on a photonic chip, as a possible way of realising large-scale measurement-based quantum computing. This was followed by the QETLabs' own Dylan Mahler, who discussed recent work at the University of Bristol on efficient homodyne detection, in particular using it to measure the vacuum state for a quantum random number generator.

The day ended with Tommaso Calarco from Ulm University, who explained the current status of the Quantum Flagship Project, a project by the European Commission to offer €1billion of funding for quantum technologies.

Akira Furusawa (University of Tokyo) and his talk on hybrid quantum information processing
For photos of BQIT:17 please visit: https://flic.kr/s/aHskXQyBRM
Videos of all of our talks from the workshop are also available at: http://bit.ly/2ozTd5j
For information on upcoming events, or for more information and queries please email us at bqit-admin@bristol.ac.uk

Day 1 of the Bristol Quantum Information Technologies (BQIT) workshop

This year's BQIT workshop was hosted at the M Shed on Bristol's harbourside.

The first day of QET Labs' fourth annual Bristol Quantum Information Technologies (BQIT) Workshop kicked off with a whistle-stop tour of quantum technologies, ranging from the foundations of entanglement to the quantum industry.

For entanglement foundations, first to speak was University of Toronto's Aephraim Steinberg, highlighting two recent results: how quantum-enhanced sensing can beat "Rayleigh's curse" and strongly increase nonlinear optical effects. He was followed by Marek Żukowski from the University of Gdańsk, who explained how redefining Stokes parameters can lead to better entanglement observations.

The devices segment began with Josh Nunn from the University of Oxford unveiling a long awaited result: A noise free quantum memory! University of Pavia's Marco Liscidini followed this with his proposal for a ring resonator with 99.9% purity.

Our first information theorist of the workshop, Caltech's Elizabeth Crosson spoke about not only how quantum annealing can outperform simulated annealing, but even how classical techniques inspired by quantum annealing can provide speedups over simulated annealing.

Following lunch, Jake Kennard of QET Labs started by speaking about quantum cryptography in integrated silicon, focusing in particular on a secret key rate of 1megabit/s from a chip smaller than a 5p coin! Robert Collins from Heriot Watt University explained recent work on implementing quantum digital signatures on kilometre networks around the world. The communications segment concluded with the Russian Quantum Centre's Yury Kurochkin explaining their proposed products for commercial quantum key distribution.

Chris Erven, deputy director of the Quantum Technology Enterprise Centre (QTEC), began our industry segment by talking about the past year of QTEC and his advocacy for "white-hat tweeting". From a fundamental company for quantum photonics, Chris Snelling of ICE Oxford detailed the largest and most powerful cryostat they have ever made, offering 340mW of colling power at 1.0K. Our final talk for the day came from Keysight Technologies' Niki Haines, who explained the platforms Keysight thought were most likely to mainstream quantum computers, and the tools they were developing to help reach this goal.

The day concluded with a panel discussion on the state of the quantum industry. Questions ranged from how the industry has (and will continue to) change, to what academics and universities should do to enter the commercial world, and what would the panellists consider to be quantum technology in the first place.

Our Industry panel (left to right) Susannah Jones from DSTL, Roberto Desimone from BAE Systems, Bob Cockshott from KTN UK, Niki Haines from Keysight and Andy Collins from QTEC.
For photos of BQIT:17 please visit: https://flic.kr/s/aHskXQyBRM
Videos of all of our talks from the workshop are also available at: http://bit.ly/2ozTd5j
For information on upcoming events, or for more information and queries please email us at bqit-admin@bristol.ac.uk

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Bristol Optical Student's Society (BOSS) and QETLabs researchers show off the power of optical fibres and photonic crystals to local school children at the new UnitDX facility, Bristol's new science incubator.

This time, the very first members of the public visiting UnitDX's sparkling new laboratories were neither local officials nor scientists, but children from local schools coming to discover how science will be used to engineer their futures. Arriving two days before the official opening of the site, the children had the opportunity explore a number of different exhibits, from donning VR headsets to interactive play with molecules, to lab coats for chromatography. 

At the event, students from Bristol Optical Students Society (BOSS) and QETLabs presented demonstrations of the fundamental concepts underpinning the cutting-edge research of the University of Bristol quantum photonics group. Their first demo displayed the apparent "magic" of optical fibres, completely trapping light inside without the need of a single mirror. By creating optical fibres of water, the students saw how light can be bent around corners and how this is used in fibre broadband to create super fast internet broadband speeds. Next students discovered the beauty of butterflies' iridescence from naturally-occurring photonic crystals. The students witnessed an experiment showing an effective stretching of these crystals through applying ethanol to a real specimen's wing and witnessed the colour transform from blue to green and back again before their own eyes.

"The children were absolutely fascinated by the workshops put on by BOSS. They were so engaged in the activities and had lots of questions to ask. From microscopes and laser beams to fibre optics and refraction, thank you for expanding their vocabularies and interest in science. What a great way to celebrate British Science Week at Unit DX." - UnitDX

BOSS and QETLabs researchers would like to thank UnitDX for hosting both the demonstrators and children for this unique event.

For more information about the event and the new UnitDX science incubator, visit http://unitdx.com/

Friday, 24 March 2017

QETLabs outreach team invited to Royal Society for Science Museum training day

In preparation for QETLabs' upcoming exhibit at the Royal Society Summer Showcase, CQP PhD students Ben Slater and Sam Morley-Short were invited to a professional outreach training session hosted by Royal Society and Science Museum engagement experts. The event was also attended by members from many other exhibits, ranging from climate scientists modelling our complex ecosystem to engineers showcasing "mixed reality" with the new Microsoft Hololens (https://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/en-gb), with attendees encouraged to learn from each other's strengths and weaknesses.

The morning session focused on understanding your target audience: What scientific experiences, biases and assumptions might audience members already have before coming to your exhibit? What do they want out of the interaction and how can you give it to them? How can you design your exhibit to engage the audience in a way they enjoy, rather than how you might do so to other scientists? From this, key messages and learning outcomes were devised, providing a stronger focus for the QETLabs' exhibit. 

The afternoon session explored the different ways of communicating science in the most engaging way to the public, including exercises such as "Mystery Objects", "Powerful Questions" and "The Two-minute stare" (as it turns out, it's a strange experience to talk to someone with a blank stare, or to not react to someone talking for two whole minutes!). These exercises forced demonstrators to get onto the "other side" of the exhibit and understand how best they can improve their personal communication skills.

The session concluded with role-played run-throughs, from grandma's learning about studying fusion physics with the world's largest lasers to teenagers taught how to search for Dark Matter with supercomputers. Needless to say, descriptions were derailed and demos deconstructed, but armed with their new outreach skills, the demonstrators managed to put on a good show.

To find out more about QET Labs please visit: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/physics/research/quantum/

For more information on the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition: https://royalsociety.org/science-events-and-lectures/2017/07/summer-science/

Friday, 10 March 2017

QET Labs welcomes the Future Brunels

 “The Future Brunels programme aims to inspire and enthuse young people with science and engineering throughout their time at secondary school.
By introducing young people to the impacts science and engineering have already on their own and other’s lives, and to the range of career options available to them through studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects, the programme encourages the Future Brunels to consider careers in the broadest set of STEM fields.”

On Thursday 9th March, twelve Future Brunels students aged 13 and 14 visited the QET Labs team to investigate the wave nature of light, and how this can be used to measure minute distances such as the width of a single animal hair.

The group began with a talk from PhD student Sam Morley-Short, who described the long-standing 17th Century feud between scientists trying to determine whether light is made of waves or particles. After learning how the wave nature of light was finally determined by Young’s famous double slit experiment, the Future Brunels were sent off in small groups to adapt the original experiment to measure the widths of a number of different animal hairs (generously donated by our furry friends at Bristol Zoo).

Carefully shining their lasers onto the hairs, the Future Brunels were able to measure the interference patterns produced, which varied in size depending on the hair’s width. By using their outcomes and solving the double slit equation, the teams then collated their findings to calculate the averages of each of their collected measurements to find a more accurate result.

Each group was also treated to a tour of our CDT lab by PhD students Henry Semenenko and Jeremy Adcock, and finished the day off with a question and answer session with the QET Labs team.

We look forward to welcoming the Future Brunels back to QET Labs soon, and are excited to see what these budding scientists and engineers bring to the world of quantum in the future.