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Yes, we know that sometimes it feels like they just tack the word quantum on new technology and call it a day like we are all living in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Nevertheless, quantum technology is very real and is just as exciting. Our better understanding of the quantum world and handle on the principles will help us improve everything from computing to encryption.
Today in our coverage of new quantum technology a team of researchers from the Institute of Science and Technology Austria has harnessed the power of entangled photons to create the world’s first quantum radar. The new radar has a host of applications including stealthy radar.
The power of the entangled world
So, of course, the first thing on your mind is probably how does it work? In short, the device was created when researchers created pairs of entangled microwave photons using a superconducting device called a Josephson parametric converter.
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Described as "spooky action at a distance", quantum entanglement is a physical phenomenon that occurs when pairs or groups of particles are generated, interact, or share spatial proximity in ways such that the quantum state of each particle cannot be described independently of the state of the others, even when the particles are separated by a large distance.
In this case, think of the function of the radar like you are playing ping pong with a mirror and the ball represents the photon. To get the radar to work researchers beam the first photo which is called the signal photon towards their intended object and listen for the reflection, or in our example, for it to bounce back.
While this occurs, the second photon, dubbed the idler photon, is stored waiting for the reflection to arrive. Once the reflection arrives it interferes with this idler photon creating a unique signature the lets you know how far your object of interest is in relation to you.
Benefits of using quantum radar
This new technology is exciting for multiple reasons, one being that this is the first application of microwave-based entanglement. The newly created radar system offers a low power and precise radar detection system over more conventional radars that we use every day.
At the moment the radar only performs well at short distances but could open the door to the creation of stealthy like radar that is almost impossible for adversaries to detect over background noise. Even more so, the technology could offer low-power radar for security applications in populated environments. The quantum world strikes again.