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/