Quantum Technologies

Photonics - Enabler of the Second Quantum Revolution

Quantum technologies offer great potential to revolutionize existing techniques and overcome current performance limits of technical devices. Quantum technologies offer fundamentally new possibilities, e.g. for ultra-precise measurement techniques and tap-proof data transmission.

For novel sensing and information processing using quantum technologies 2.0, photonic principles and systems play a central role. From current basic research, revolutionary breakthroughs will emerge in a few years, e.g., for detection sensitivity or the precision of optical methods.

The most important goal is to bring quantum technologies out of the laboratories and into application.

Quantum technologies are based on the various quantum mechanical phenomena and have led to a variety of applications since the 1950s, which are often referred to as first generation quantum technologies. These include, in addition to developments in semiconductors and atomic clocks, the laser, which since then has found its way in a unique way into the most diverse areas of science and industry.

Quantum technologies of the 2nd generation are concerned with the targeted quantum mechanical control of individual or a few elementary particles.

The fields of application of the second generation quantum technologies can be divided into four main topics:

  • Quantum sensing
  • Quantum communications
  • Quantum imaging and
  • Quantum computing

In the majority of the above-mentioned application areas, effects and applications from the field of photonics form the basis for quantum technologies or significantly enable them (enabling technology).


Quantum sensor technology

Quantum mechanical effects can be used to realize high-precision gyroscopes and sensors for measuring, for example, temperatures, magnetic fields, gravitational fields or electric fields.

For example, sensors based on nitrogen imperfections in a diamond crystal can be used to detect magnetic fields. For this purpose, a needle is first made of diamond, in whose tip two carbon atoms are removed and replaced by a nitrogen molecule. External magnetic fields cause the nitrogen molecule to undergo energy level splitting. The splitting can be detected optically.

The high measurement accuracy makes quantum sensors interesting for many applications, e.g. in medical diagnostics or raw material exploration.

Quantum communication

Quantum communication can be used to make data transmissions tap-proof. Here, entangled photons are used for key transmission. If the transmission is intercepted, this can be detected. The so-called no-cloning theorem prevents unnoticed eavesdropping of the data transmission.


Quantum Imaging

Quantum imaging uses entangled photons that can have different wavelengths. This allows examinations in medical technology to be carried out in a way that is gentle on tissue and with higher resolution than classical methods.

Quantum computers

In contrast to classical computers, which are based on the states 0 and 1, quantum computers use quantum mechanical states (qubits). Since these can be not only discrete states but also superposition states, completely new application perspectives arise.
In special applications, quantum computers can offer performance advantages over classical computers. In particular, in the simulation of molecules, e.g., for research in chemistry, on pharmaceutical agents, or in the field of materials science. Quantum computers also offer completely new possibilities for cryptographic applications at security agencies.