Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sandia Labs researcher provides more details about steps towards “a quantum bus”

Sandia National Laboratories researcher Ryan Camacho today provided Etopia News with further details about recent research there that is opening the way for further advances in quantum computing.  He wrote:

“Connecting quantum computers requires a quantum bus—a communications channel that can successfully transfer quantum states to other quantum processors without destroying them (quantum states are very fragile!).  What we’ve done (Sandia and Harvard) is place two distinct quantum emitters, which are also quantum absorbers, exactly where we want them and then connect their quantum states with high fidelity via photons.  This is the first time this has been accomplished on a chip, and while much more work will have to be done to connect actual functioning quantum computers, this is an important step.  It’s kind of the Morse code stage of quantum communications on a chip.  Building on these tools, we’ll hopefully be able to move to the analogous 'voice' and 'data' phases we’ve seen in classical communications and connect much more sophisticated end-nodes.

“In the meantime, the connected quantum emitters may also be useful for other important tasks in metrology, medicine and probably other things we haven’t even thought of.  When the quantum states of the atoms are connected, the atoms’ themselves become correlated, and can behave like a single atom, just with more energy states.  Atoms can be terrific field sensors, and the fact these quantum-correlated atoms can now be distributed across a chip points to some interesting opportunities in distributed atomic sensing.  Since diamond micro-particles are known to be bio-friendly, there might be some medical applications that could make use of this as well.”

For more background on this subject, see "Q & A and explanations of Sandia-Harvard quantum computing breakthrough."

Monday, October 17, 2016

Q & A and explanations of Sandia-Harvard quantum computing breakthrough

In an October 14, 2016, press release entitled “Diamonds Aren’t Forever: Sandia,Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge,” Sandia National Laboratories announced the success of a physics experiment involving the creation of controllable quantum emitters consisting of silicon atoms that are placed within a diamond matrix replacing one or more of the carbon atoms that originally constituted that uniform substrate.

You can read the paper upon which this press release is based, entitled “An integrated diamond nanophotonics platform for quantum optical networks,” by clicking here. 

Etopia News contacted the experimental team’s Harvard contingent and asked for more details about the mechanics and future of this exciting new technology.  Ruffin Evans, a PhD candidate in physics at Harvard, and a member of this paper’s corresponding author and Harvard physics Professor Mikhail Lukin’s research team, quickly and graciously provided an explanation of detailed aspects of this research.  He also provided a Q & A text designed for the general reader.

Here’s what Ruffin Evans told Etopia News about the research:

I'm one of the researchers at Harvard who worked on this experiment under Prof. Lukin's supervision. I have attached a brief FAQ explaining our work at the level of the general public.

Basically, the idea is the following. The diamond lattice is a very "clean" and inert material, which we then implant individual silicon atoms into. This forms a silicon-vacancy (SiV) color center which is basically an atom-like system that we can control using lasers. In other words, it is an optically addressable quantum bit. We need to do some tricks to shape the diamond around the SiV center, essentially forming tiny nanoscale optical wires that focus the light tightly around the SiV. This helps make the interaction between the SiV and the optical field strong.

This system can be used to realize an all-optical switch or even entanglement between two adjacent SiV centers. (Described in more detail in the attached txt document). These are two very important elements of quantum networks. Building an optical switch demonstrates that we can change the state of light depending of the state of the SiV center, which means that we can efficiently use SiV centers to control the flow of light on the quantum level. Entanglement is a key resource for performing complex quantum manipulations within a single quantum device. So, these two results together show that we should be able to use these techniques to build devices that can talk to each other (through light) and are also useful on their own for some basic quantum manipulations (using entanglement).

This system is very exciting because this is the first time these experiments have been performed in a single solid-state system in the optical domain. Moreover, our devices are scalable using standard semiconductor fabrication techniques, which means we could create millions of devices on a single chip. Future work may be in this direction: integrating SiV centers among multiple devices to build a complex on-chip quantum network.

Asked further about next steps in building entire quantum computing systems based on these techniques, the graduate student added:

We're already working on it, actually! Right now we're developing new techniques to link multiple SiV centers on a single device with very high efficiency. The next step is to develop technology that will increase the memory time of these devices, which basically means we have more time to engineer the interactions that are crucial for forming the network. We're hoping to accomplish those goals over the next six months. After that, so on the 6-12-month timescale, we will work on linking together multiple devices both on-chip and between multiple chips.

Here's the Q & A:

> 1. Please could you say what the most important result in your paper is, and why it is important?

We used a single color center in a diamond nanodevice to demonstrate two key building blocks for quantum networks. First, we demonstrated that a single color center can be used as an optical switch. We also used photons to entangle two color centers in a nanophotonic device. Both of these results show that we can create effective interactions between single photons and between two color centers using solid-state devices. These two types of interactions are the essential ingredients for building complex quantum states of light and matter.

> 2. Could you simply describe how you make a quantum-optical switch controlled by a single color center?

The crucial aspect of the switch is the realization of strong interactions between photons and a single color center. Specifically, we need the interaction to be strong enough that a single color center can reflect light -- a mirror made from a single quantum system. By controlling the color center, we can turn this reflectivity on and off, making a switch.

To achieve this, we chose to use silicon-vacancy color centers which have recently been shown to interact strongly with light. We placed the silicon atoms inside nanophotonic diamond devices that guide photons using the same principles as optical fibers. The cross-section of these devices is so small that a single color center can block the flow of light. In other words, the light is "focused" into a device so small that a single color center can interact with it. (We also use a set of special nanoscale mirrors -- a photonic crystal cavity -- to increase the interaction strength even more by bouncing the light back and forth over the color center thousands of times.) Once we have this strong interaction, we controlling the internal states of a color center to control the flow of light and realize a switch (see below).

> 3. How can you switch this device?

The color center can be prepared in two different electronic states by using laser fields. One of these states strongly interacts with light and reflects photons. The other state is does not interact with light and is transparent to photons. By choosing which state the color center is prepared in, we can switch the transmission either on or off.

> 4. What implications/applications do you foresee as a result of this work?

Using our techniques, we can precisely control the interactions between photons and color centers. These interactions can be used to create complex quantum states involving entanglement between multiple photons and color centers -- a key resource for quantum information processing. Our results also show that we can route and store the quantum information in photons using color centers inside nanophotonic devices.

One of the biggest advantages of our system is that it is possible to create millions of devices on a single chip using standard semiconductor fabrication techniques. (In our experiment, we create several thousand devices -- industrial techniques could do better.) So, these systems could be used to create complicated on-chip networks or even optical quantum processors with many devices all communicating using photons.

These devices also have potential applications in classical information processing, because they could be used to switch, control, and store light without first converting it into an electrical signal. Because all long-distance communication is done with optical fields in fiber optic cables, being able to control the propagation of light directly is advantageous.

> 5. What are the next stages in your investigations?

We are working on an experiment where two color centers in a single device interact directly by exchanging a photon. In other words, a photon created by one color center will be "caught" by the second color center. This would enable efficient, direct generation of interesting (entangled) quantum states between multiple color centers that would be a major step forward in the quest towards on-chip quantum networks.

One potential drawback of our system is the short memory time. In order to switch the system, recall that we "store" a photon in the color center. This changes the state of the color center and switches the incident light field. In the current system, the photon stored in the color center is lost after tens of nanoseconds. However, we are developing methods to store a photon in a color center for a long period (up to one second) such that it can be used as a long-lived memory.


Friday, October 14, 2016

A Disney Accelerator Demo Day press release with embedded Etopia News video interviews

On October 13, 2016, a beautiful early autumn day, a crowd of about 200 entertainment industry professionals and press gathered outside, then inside, then again outside the main theater on the Disney lot in Burbank to watch and listen to promotional pitches from nine startups whose development has been aided by support from the Disney Accelerator Program. 

Etopia News conducted short video interviews after the presentations with Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company; Jaunt’s CEO George Kliavkoff; Ayah Bdeir, Founder and CEO of littleBits; Andrew Tergis, an electrical engineer at littleBits; and nom Associate Producer Emily Rudisill, accompanied by PR Professional Lena Potter.

Links to these interviews are interspersed within the following verbatim and comprehensive press release about the event written and provided to Etopia News by the Disney team:

Disney Accelerator Showcases Nine Startups at 2016 Demo Day

Participating companies announce Disney deals and products

Burbank, Calif., October 13, 2016 – Today, The Walt Disney Company concluded the 2016 Disney Accelerator program, hosting its third annual Demo Day. At the event, the nine participating companies presented their businesses to investors, Disney executives and other industry leaders. 

Demo Day follows the three-month immersive Disney Accelerator program, which gave participants from around the world unprecedented guidance, access and opportunities to work with all divisions of The Walt Disney Company. In addition, leaders from participating companies received mentorship from Disney executives, including Chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger, as well as leaders from The Walt Disney Company, including Disney|ABC Television Group, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media (DCPI), ESPN, Lucasfilm, Marvel, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and others.
For a video interview with Bob Iger, in which he comments on Disney’s competitive advantage going forward, click here.  
"Technology and innovation are at the heart of every experience at The Walt Disney Company, and Disney Accelerator puts us on the ground floor with some of the most promising startups in the world through a program aimed at accelerating the future of media and entertainment," said Kevin Mayer, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of The Walt Disney Company.

This year’s program builds on the success of past Disney Accelerator initiatives, which first launched in 2014. Past participants continue to work with Disney, including Sphero, which created the BB-8 droid toy, the number one Star Wars toy in 2015. Additionally, StatMuse , an AI-powered sports storytelling and knowledge platform, is currently providing ESPN with interactive statistical content, and Israel-based imperson launched The Muppets’ Miss Piggy and Disney’s Zootopia chat experiences on Facebook powered by the company’s artificial intelligence technology.

The Disney Accelerator 2016 companies and their announcements with The Walt Disney Company include:

·       Ader – a marketplace connecting advertisers with esports talent. Through the Disney Accelerator, Ader is working on a pilot program with Maker Studios, a global leader in short form content and one of the largest influencer networks worldwide, to together offer unique esports opportunities to the world's leading marketers. Maker Studios plans to also bring top gaming creators to live streaming through Ader’s marketplace. Additionally, Ader and ESPN are planning to bring some of the company’s top esports talent to ESPN.com in a 2017 pilot program to provide weekly video analyzing key updates to the top esports games.

·       Atom Tickets – a new social mobile ticketing app for movies; Atom makes it easy to find your favorite movie, invite your friends, and preorder your favorite snacks. Atom helps you plan your night out to the movies and is available nationwide. Atom Tickets announced today that it will be working with The Walt Disney Studios and DCPI to offer consumers the opportunity to purchase merchandise with movie tickets for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, with future titles under consideration. 

·       Hanson Robotics – a leader in creating human-like robots with a full range of facial expressions. Through the Disney Accelerator, Hanson Robotics is conducting research and development with DCPI and Walt Disney Imagineering to explore bringing Disney characters to life as consumer products that could be sold at retail.

·       Jaunt – Pioneering end-to-end solutions for creating and publishing immersive cinematic virtual reality, Jaunt is a leading developer of the hardware, software, tools and applications that put the power of virtual reality in the hands of some of today’s best content creators. Today, Jaunt announced that it has licensed Disney Research’s cutting-edge VR video technology and will be collaborating with Disney Research to integrate it into Jaunt’s Cloud Services. Jaunt is also working with ESPN to film several of this season’s College GameDay stops in VR, offering viewers behind the scenes access to the iconic show, tailgates, interviews and sideline action. 

      For a video interview with Jaunt’s CEO George Kliavkoff, click here.  

·       littleBits – littleBits is a platform of easy-to-use technology kits that empowers kids to invent anything, from a remote controlled car to a dancing robot to a smart home device. At Demo Day, littleBits shared that it is working with DCPI on a potential Star Wars collaboration. Additionally, littleBits announced that the company is working with DCPI to develop a short form online video series that features kids as everyday inventors, premiering this fall with a story featuring Disney characters.

      For a video interview with Ayah Bdeir, Founder and CEO of littleBits, click here.  

      For a video interview with Andrew Tergis, an electrical engineer at littleBits, in which he demonstrates how littleBits work, click here.    

·       Nom – Nom is an online community where people who are passionate about food connect through live video and chat. Today, Nom announced it is working with ABC to bring video clips, behind-the-scenes content, and sneak peeks of upcoming episodes of The Chew to its audience of food lovers. Nom will also be working with DCPI’s Content and Media sites to feature amazing food videos from Disney Family and Babble. Additionally, Nom and VICE Media will bring the world of Munchies, Vice’s food platform, to Nom.

      For an interview with nom Associate Producer Emily Rudisill, accompanied by PR Professional Lena Potter, in which she discusses the company’s mission, click here.  

·       OTOY – OTOY is a holographic content platform bringing the power of light field rendering and streaming to virtual reality and augmented reality experiences. Through OTOY’s new ORBX media player, Disney.comMarvel.comABC.comABCNews.com and ESPN.com are now available to browse in Oculus Social and Samsung’s Web Browser for Gear VR. Users can now explore these web sites in a VR environment with their friends.

·       Playbuzz – Playbuzz is a content-creation and audience-engagement platform that empowers thousands of publishers, marketers and brands to easily create engaging content using mobile-friendly formats that are optimized for social sharing. Through the Disney Accelerator, ABC.comESPN.com and DCPI’s Content and Media sites, including Oh My Disney, Disney Style, and Babble are now piloting Playbuzz content formats.

·       Pley – a leading toy subscription company that is pioneering the next generation in e-commerce for toys. Pley is exploring an exciting relationship with Disney Store which will aim to bring to market a Disney Princess subscription package. 

For more information about the Disney Accelerator program, please visit DisneyAccelerator.com.