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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/K04057X/1
Title: Quantum-enabled Enhancements in presence of Noise (QueEN)
Principal Investigator: Datta, Professor A
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Oxford Physics
Organisation: University of Oxford
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 31 March 2014 Ends: 31 January 2015 Value (£): 883,050
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Biophysics Quantum Optics & Information
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
03 Sep 2013 EPSRC Physical Sciences Fellowships Interview Panel 3rd and 4th September 2013 Announced
25 Jul 2013 EPSRC Physical Sciences Physics - July 2013 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The written word is one of the greatest inventions of the human mind. From clay tablets, through papyrus, paper, punch-cards, onto the magnetic hard-disks of computers, each has represented a revolutionary method of recording information -- a transformation in human civilisation. Allied to each of these, the ways of processing and transferring information have undergone dramatic changes. The latest in this line of change and innovation is our digital information age. This phenomenal advance it is not the culmination of our endeavours, and yet greater advances can be achieved by harnessing the idea that information is not an ephemeral notion, but an integral part of physical reality.

The best known theory describing physical reality is quantum physics, and this promises to be the next disruptive transformation in the process of recording, processing, transferring and even acquiring information. Quantum information science (QIS) has already demonstrated, in proof-of-principle experiments, the promise of super-efficient computation, unconditionally secure communication, super-precise measurements, and much more. These enhanced capabilities rely on the existence of quantum entanglement. Unfortunately, the laws of physics that underlie entanglement also make it extremely fragile and vulnerable. And this chasm divides the principle and practice of QIS.

My research will bridge this gap - by designing quantum protocols that rely on resilient forms of quantum correlations, using them to develop quantum enhanced measurement and communication protocols. To learn more about the resilience of nonclassical correlations, I will study their evolution in the noisiest of environments - a biological molecule. It will inform our ability to manipulate and maintain nonclassical correlations in noisy environments, and allow us to study the role of quantum mechanics in biological processes.

Robustness and scalability will be a central aspect in the design of the protocols developed in this project, and I will work closely with experimentalists to bring these advantages to the real world. I will concentrate on two particular applications. The first of these is quantum-enhanced precision measurements. It is known that quantum mechanics can measure single parameters with precisions impossible classically. Measuring several parameters simultaneously is however a very sophisticated problem, and forms the basis of sophisticated applications such as the development of microscopes and cameras. Not much is known about the quantum theory of measuring multiple parameters simultaneously, and my project will develop this mathematical theory. This will be followed by experiments demonstrating the quantum advantages promised by the theoretical developments - first in laboratory settings, and then in-situ biological samples.

My second objective is to develop quantum communication protocols relying resilient quantum correlations that are less fragile than quantum entanglement. I will begin by developing the theoretical principles underpinning recently identified forms of robust, nonclassical correlations such as quantum discord, which can provide quantum enhanced performance. This will enable the optimal manipulation of these correlations to deliver quantum advantages in the real world.

Finally, I will study nonclassical correlations in a very noisy biological system called a light-harvesting complex, a molecule transferring solar energy absorbed by photosynthetic organisms to a chemical reaction centre, being ~ 99% efficient. Clearer understanding of this process could have immense ramifications in developing artificial systems that can harness solar energy better than our best solar cells, which only operate at ~ 30% efficiency. Beyond this major technological and correspondingly societal change, my research will explore the intriguing question of whether quantum mechanical effects are directly used to confer selective advantage in life processes.
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Organisation Website: http://www.ox.ac.uk