Quantum Optics Lab
The Quantum Optics Lab was built in 2011. It was supported in part by a grant from the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research. The Quantum Optics Lab extends the space of T-Com faculty and student engagement into an emerging and exciting area of research and graduate instruction. Even within a brief span of its existence, this Lab has resulted in implementing, for the first time, the three-stage quantum optics protocol for securing information unconditionally. Current activities of the Lab are supported partially through funding from the National Science Foundation under a research grant. Some of the equipment in the Lab and details of some of the experiments under way are described below.
The Quantum Optics Lab houses multiple experimental set-ups demonstrating fundamental optical and quantum mechanical concepts. It contains experiments that provide proof of concepts in principles of photon polarization and wave-particle duality of light. Also, interferometer experiments measuring small phase shifts in two light beams are available in the Quantum Optics Lab. Optical components such as polarizing filters, wave plates, liquid crystal retarders, entanglement demonstrator, avalanche photodiodes and various other quantum optical devices and components are being utilized in several experimental arrangements. One of the experiments in the Lab is the Young’s Double Slit apparatus. The double-slit experiment, sometimes called Young's experiment, is a demonstration of the wave-particle duality of light using a laser source. Also this experiment demonstrates the dual characteristics of a single photon using an attenuated light source.
Other experiments in the Quantum Optics Lab include the Mach-Zehnder interferometer, Michelson’s interferometer and Sagnac interferometer. These experiments rely on the concepts of constructive and destructive interference and demonstrate this by the division and subsequent recombination of light beams. Applications of interferometry in physics and technology are very broad, they are revealed in a host of applications involving high precision length measurement or the very sensitive detection of mechanical displacements.
An additional experiment in the Lab provides proof of concept of the three-stage protocol proposed by Dr. Subhash Kak. This experimental set-up is the first implementation of a quantum key distribution protocol. It also provides security against siphoning attacks. The only other implementation of a quantum key distribution system based on the BB’84 protocol is not free from siphoning attacks. The experimental set-up in the Lab utilizes passive optical devices and software programming using LabView to successfully implement the three-stage protocol.
The Lab also owns commercial grade, state-of-the-art Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) systems which implement popular QKD protocols and generate quantum cryptographic keys. These systems have the potential to be used for further research and understanding of quantum key distribution protocols.
In summary, the Quantum Optics Lab offers numerous opportunities for students to learn, pursue research and familiarize themselves with the latest technologies in quantum mechanical and optical domains.