A Wave Photonics Wafer Being Tested by CORNERSTONE. Credit: Wave Photonics

Wave Photonics, a startup based in Cambridge, UK, is spearheading a £500 thousand ($627K USD) funded by Innovate UK project to develop integrated photonic components for trapped ion quantum computers and establish a UK supply chain. The project is a collaboration with Oxford Ionics, the CORNERSTONE foundry at the University of Southampton, and the Compound Semiconductor Applications (CSA) Catapult. The goal is to enhance the UK supply chain for integrated photonics and quantum technologies.

Trapped ions, individual atoms from which an electron has been precisely removed using lasers and then suspended in space to form qubits, are a promising approach to building scalable, practical quantum computers. These qubits are controlled with extremely low error rates using electric fields. Scaling this technology to accommodate a large number of ions presents a challenge due to the quantity of bulk optical components required. The increasing complexity of these optical setups necessitates more scalable and compact solutions, which is where integrated photonics comes in.

Integrated photonics employs the same manufacturing processes used to create traditional electronic chips, but instead produces chips that utilize light. This technology is already in use by companies like Intel and Cisco for data transmission in data centers. The SiNQ project (Silicon Nitride for Quantum Computing) will leverage component design and optimization techniques being developed at Wave Photonics to design high-performance devices that can quickly work with the multiple wavelengths of light needed for trapped ion quantum computers. Wave Photonics will build on its core photonics design capability and software to create component designs for the wide range of wavelengths required to read and manipulate the trapped ions.

A news release provided by Wave Photonics with additional information about the project can be seen here.

December 9, 2023