Generation of single photons is of great interest to NASA for several applications, chief among them is for calibration of single photon sensing detectors such as superconducting edge sensors or nanowire detectors. Single photon sources that produces photons that are entangled are also needed for quantum communications. The development of a carbon nanotube electrode by the SBIR firm during unrelated SBIR Phase III work related to an E-Nose for detection of VOC's in COVID-19 infected patients, provides a new avenue for the development of single photon sources. By implanting functionalized quantum dots (QD) on activated carbon nanotube (CNT) sites we can generate single photons by three different processes. 1) Electrical stimulation of quantum dots embedded in a dielectric 2) Optical stimulation using a laser of a different wavelength 3) Opto-electric stimulation of the quantum dots by providing a bias voltage and then providing optical pumping. The use of CNTs as both the support structure and electrode provides an ultra dark background for absorbing light from the pump laser to allow easier viewing of the emitted photon. CNTs freely share electrons within their matrix, also making them appear as an electron gas, which may also enhance the QD photon generation pump process. The QD's will be implanted using a nano plotter on an array of 16 pixels that are derived from the E-Nose chip design, this could allow for the implantation of a variety of QD types to provide different colors of emitted photons from each pixel. During Phase I will focus on demonstrating that we can generate single photons by these modalities. A pump laser will be passed through a fast optical fiber switch and collimated to illuminate the pixel array; the 1x2 switch will be operated to allow the illumination and collected photons to be isolated, with the emitted photons captured by the collimator array and output by the fiber switch to a fast detector for measurement.
Generation of single photons and many of them is a key technology to applying quantum entanglement to quantum computing, communications and cryptology. Single photon generation will allow the adaptation of existing technology and infrastructure to this new and powerful means of communication. Free space quantum communications would enable near instantaneous command and control of NASA assets in deep space by manipulation of entangled photons on the ground that have been delayed in a fiber optic loop and a paired receiver on the probe.
Single photon generation and entanglement at telecom wavelengths would allow adaptation of existing infrastructure for instantaneous communications on the ground that is impervious to interception because it is impossible decode the transmission without access to the paired entangled photon. Quantum communications, cryptology and computing all depend on the ability to generate single photons.