Quantum illumination may one day let us get lots of data via hyper-long-distance systems
Imagine two photons, basic units of light that are infinitesimally small. Scientists shoot one photon into the sky. The other they keep in the lab. The photon in the sky strikes an airliner or a satellite. Almost immediately, the scientists pick up the flying object’s location. How do they know their sliver of light has hit a target miles away? They can tell by comparing one photon to the other.
It’s an exotic concept called quantum illumination, an outgrowth of quantum physics now under study by scientists at Raytheon BBN Technologies in Cambridge.
“We’ve learned about quantum physics in the lab. Now we ask ourselves, ‘Can we translate the most crucial ideas into the practical domain?’ ’’ said a Boston University physics professor, Alexander Sergienko.
The process is similar to radar, where electromagnetic waves rebound off objects to create an image of something so far away the naked eye can’t see it. But because of quantum physics, the smaller photon delivers far more data far more quickly and efficiently, scientists said.
A quantum radar could conceivably carry more data than, say, a traditional radar, because of the different qualities photons express as both particles and waves.
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Interesting concept. With development of Quantum Radars, stealth just becomes a more deadly and practical terminology. Move over AESA, say hello to Photons!