As part of Harvey Mudd College’s summer undergraduate research program, Julien Devin ’12 and Robert Kealhofer ’13 are exploring novel ways to encode information for secure communication using the quantum physics of light. With the help of their adviser, Assistant Professor of Physics Theresa Lynn, they are focusing their research on detecting and measuring the orbital angular momentum of quantum-mechanically entangled photons, so that they can encode information in that property of photons for future communication experiments.
By minutely adjusting the path of infrared laser beams through special holograms, in total darkness, they can control and analyze varying degrees of orbital angular momentum of photons.
"Entangled photons carry information in the way their states are correlated with each other. It's secure because if someone spies on a quantum cryptography channel the people that are communicating can detect it so they can cancel their communication if they know someone is spying." --- Julien Devin '12
"Working in a lab is very different because you don't have well defined problems, you aren't sure if you even have the tools to solve them. But you have to try and solve them anyway. It's exciting!" --- Robert Kealhofer '13