The instrument was designed and built in Chile by Chilean physicists and engineers from the Millennium Institute for Optical Research (MIRO) and from three Chilean universities, with the collaboration of international researchers. The work was published today in the international scientific journal ‘OPTICA’. 

While companies like Google or IBM have shown the first functional prototypes of quantum computers, with state of the art technology, enabled to process large amounts of data per second, a multidisciplinary team successfully developed a device of low cost but with high performance for use in optical communications, as well as quantum computing based on optical devices.

“We have a highly efficient device, which is manufactured by exploring a modern design for next generation fiber optics. Due to it's simplicity, it will be a milestone in the field of applied optics such as: communication, computing and metrology (high-precision measurements of physical phenomena) "says Jaime Cariñe, a MIRO researcher.

This device has extraordinary potential, its technical name is "Multiport Beam Splitter", "which is not actually a quantum computer, but it could be a very important component of one. Its function is to couple and process signals with high computational performance, ”explains the professor Cariñe, from the Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción.

Huge possibilities

The development of this component opens the door for efficient applications in different research fields, such as information security: "it is capable of protecting common files such as text, keys and videos, providing unconditional security given by the properties of quantum mechanics. This aims to improve the protection of highly reliable wire transfers where inviolability of the keys is required. ”says Cariñe.

For Gustavo Lima, Research Director, academic of the Department of Physics and Mathematics at the University of Concepción and associate researcher at MIRO, the applications of this device are widespread in applied optics “It has direct implications in Lottery and online gaming companies, where the Privacy of the generated numbers is guaranteed by the fundamental laws of quantum mechanics, which is why we have patents in preparation for lottery applications based on these devices", he notes. 

The discovery was made possible by several years of effort, in which we tried to find practical methods to better exploit the multidimensional nature of light for information processing. Since we wanted to focus on this platform, with the current telecommunications infrastructure”, said Stephen Walborn, a MIRO member and professor in the Department of Physics and Mathematics at the University of Concepción.

In addition to doctors Lima, Cariñe and Walborn, the work included to Aldo Delgado, Nayda Guerrero, Tania García, and Luciano Pereira from the Universidad de Concepción, Gustavo Cañas, from the Universidad del Bío-Bío and Miguel Solís Prosser from the Universidad de la Frontera, Guilherme Xavier  from Linköpings Universitet  in Sweden; Paul Skrzypczyk, from the University of Bristol in England; and Ivan Supic and Daniel Cavalcanti, from the ICFO (Instituto de Ciencias Fotonicas) of Spain.

The study “Multi-port beamsplitters based on multi-core optical fibers for high-dimensional quantum information” was published in the scientific journal OPTICA of the Optical Society Publishng (OSA).

The original publication can be found in this link:

https://doi.org/10.1364/OPTICA.388912