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Building quantum machines out of light

Speaker: Prof Ian Walmsley (Imperial College London)
Date: Wednesday 2 December 2020
Time: 15:00 in UK
Venue: Zoom

Light has the remarkable capacity to reveal quantum features under ambient conditions, making exploration of the quantum world feasible in the laboratory and field. Further, the availability of high-quality integrated optical components makes it possible to conceive of large-scale quantum states by bringing together many different quantum light sources and manipulating them in a coherent manner and detecting them efficiently. By this route, we can envisage a scalable photonic quantum network that will facilitate the preparation of distributed quantum correlations among many light beams. This will enable a new regime of state complexity to be accessed - one for which it is impossible using classical computers to determine the structure and dynamics of the system. This is a new regime not only for scientific discovery, but also practical purpose: the same complexity of big quantum systems may be harnessed to perform tasks that are impossible using known future information processing technologies. For instance, ideal universal quantum computers may be exponentially more efficiently than classical machines for certain classes of problems, and communications may be completely secure. Photonic quantum machines will open new frontiers in quantum science and technology.

Biography: Professor Ian Walmsley FRS is the second Provost of Imperial College London since September 2018 and is also Chair in Experimental Physics at the College. Before joining Imperial, Professor Walmsley served as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) and Hooke Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Oxford. Professor Walmsley graduated from Imperial with first class honours in physics in 1980, and completed his PhD at the University of Rochester before working as a postdoc at Cornell University. He became Assistant Professor of Optics at the University of Rochester in 1988, and held a number of roles there before joining the University of Oxford in 2001 as Professor of Experimental Physics. He was also a Senior Visiting Fellow at Princeton University. He was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) of the University of Oxford in 2009, becoming Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) in 2015. At Oxford, he led the Networked Quantum Information Technologies Hub and headed up the creation of the Rosalind Franklin Institute. He was a member of the EPSRC Physics Strategic Advisory Team and was on the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics’ Science Advisory Board.In recognition of his contributions to quantum optics and ultrafast optics, Professor Walmsley was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2012. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society and the Optical Society of America.