Prof. Avi Pe’er - Harnessing the Quantum Nature of Light

In a world where even the most sensitive information can be accessed online, it is crucial to use a real time, coded, entirely secured communication method. An innovative approach in the field of information security, called Quantum Cryptography, utilizes quantum mechanics principles to fully secure all information transferred by encrypting information in single-photons transmitted via fiber optics.

Prof. Avi Pe’er, a laser physics expert in the BIU Institute for Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA), holds the world record in harnessing the quantum nature of light for ultra-precise measurement of length, time and frequency. He succeeded in creating laser sources (frequency comb), that emit extremely short pulses, each only 10-14 sec long. Here, the quantum nature of the photon is both the obstacle and the solution: The quantum discreteness of the photons introduces shot? Noise that fundamentally limits the resolution of standard techniques. Yet, use of quantum entanglement between photons can alleviate this limitation.

Pe’er, who is the head of BINA’s lab for precision optical measurements and control of light-matter interaction, holds an MSc and a PhD from the Weizmann Institute, and is considered a world expert in Quantum Cryptography, having published numerous papers and registered several patents in this field. His pioneering research was showcased in a recent edition of the prestigious journal, "Physical Review Letters," demonstrating how his method is 10 million times more efficient than any other known technology.  “It is considered an enormous improvement from what was available since up until now," says Pe'er.  "No photon detecting method was able to regulate such a massive data flow. The detector we were able to develop contains a non-linear crystal, similar to those used to transmit the information. The crystal reverses the process and detects the photons immediately upon arrival.”

“My goal was to explore new concepts for precision measurement of light, matter, and the interaction between the two,” explains Pe’er, who is also a Senior Lecturer in BIU’s Department of Physics. Pe’er, who joined BIU after returning from a post-doc at the University of Colorado as part of BIU’s Returning Scientists Project, utilizes the ultra-fast frequency comb to amplify the dim optical signals emitted by individual molecules. Using the ultra-rapid pulsed laser, it is possible to enhance light signals emitted from individual molecules by arranging for each signal to be boosted by the next incoming pulse? This “turns up the volume” without distorting the signal’s message. “Quantum Cryptography does not attempt to hide anything, but lets us detect, in real time, whether someone is trying to eavesdrop on a secured communication,” says Pe’er. “The data transferred isn’t the actual message, but a decoder that can be used to encrypt other messages. Using this improved quantifying method we can now utilize this velocity to our advantage.”
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