Prof. ir. Caspar van der Wal has received a Starting Grant of the European Research Council (ERC). This is the most prestigious prize for young scientists in Europe. Van der Wal is awarded EUR 1.5 million over a period of five years.
Interactions between spins and quantum optical pulses
Caspar van der Wal will use the ERC grant for a research project that studies quantum optics with spins in semiconductor devices. Spins of electrons and nuclei in semiconductors behave quantum mechanically. This means that –in principle- spins in two different semiconductor pieces at different locations can be in a single quantum state. The behavior of the spins is then linked in a manner that is impossible with classical physics (a phenomenon that is known from the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox). However, with semiconductors this has never been observed because interactions with the material disturb the quantum mechanical behavior (a process that is known as quantum decoherence), and this is not yet fully understood. The research of Caspar van der Wal will use interactions between spins and quantum optical pulses. This can be used for preparing very pure spin states and tests of quantum behavior at an unprecedented level.
Secure communication networks
These research investigations may find application in communication for which eavesdropping is impossible. This is for example useful for credit card payments on the Internet. Modern communication occurs in optical fiber networks, with semiconductor memory elements at the nodes of the network. If one uses a network with spins and quantum light eavesdropping can be made impossible since information is then protected by the fundamental laws of quantum mechanics.
The full title of Van der Wals research is “Quantum Optics with Spins in Solid State: The Power of Ensembles”.
Staff page Prof. ir. Caspar van der Wal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZgd9ZEAX40 (Dutch spoken)
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