Published on June 8th, 2024 | by Bibhuranjan


The Future of Photonic Quantum Computing

Moore’s law is showing its limits, pushing computing into a whole new era. This change is driven by better materials, chip designs, and quantum tech. In this upgrade, photonics stands out, aiming to make computers faster and save energy. Photonic quantum computing, driven by quantum photonic technology, is very exciting. It uses light waves to change how we handle information, showing a lot of potential.

Photonics can send many signals really fast, much faster than electricity. It’s already big in data centers. But, there’s a problem. Getting photonics to work deeply within computers is tough. Yet, doing so means we can make computers that run faster and use less energy.

For the future of photonic quantum computing, quantum computing, photonics, integrated photonics, optical computing, fiber optics, and quantum technology, we must solve this. We need to use the special ways photons work. They act as qubits even at normal temperatures and keep their special state forever. This could lead us to create powerful quantum computers.

Key Takeaways

  • Photonics offers potential solutions to the limitations of Moore’s law, with light waves having much higher frequencies than electronic signals, allowing for higher signal transmission rates and the ability to transmit multiple signals simultaneously.
  • Integrating photonic signals closer to CPUs and GPUs remains a challenge due to the difficulties in efficiently integrating photonics on chips.
  • Photonic quantum computing holds great promise, as the unique properties of photons, such as their ability to serve as qubits and maintain their quantum states indefinitely, make them a compelling platform for developing large-scale quantum computers.
  • Overcoming challenges like photon loss and entangling large numbers of photons will be crucial for unlocking the full potential of photonic quantum computing.
  • Scaling quantum computers is critical to unlocking exponential speed-ups and solving complex problems across industries, from materials and drug development to finance and logistics.

The Limitations of Moore’s Law

Many have questioned Moore’s law over the past sixty years. It stated the number of transistors on a chip would double every two years. Yet, engineers have found ways to keep this growth going. They’ve doubled the transistor density on a chip. Now, making this progress is very expensive. Chip makers are making structures on chips as thin as a few atoms. They are facing limits on how small they can make transistors.

Approaching the Physical Limits of Transistor Scaling

Making transistors smaller increases the clock rate. But, this won’t make processors faster forever. Some methods will soon reach their limits. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle might be one barrier. It means chips might not get much smaller. Some experts think Moore’s law could stop around 2036.

The Demand for Higher Computing Power

The need for more computing power is rising. This is especially true with the rise of artificial intelligence. But, we also want to lower the power used by chips. Society relies a lot on digital tools. They need more computing power. Still, Moore’s law ending makes this difficult.

The Need for Energy-Efficient Solutions

The demand for computing power keeps growing. As we reach the limits of making transistors smaller, energy-efficient solutions are vital. By 2040, 80% of the planet’s energy could go to data centers and computing. AI will play a big role in this. Finding lower-energy solutions is key. It will help develop the next high-performance, low-power systems.

The Potential of Photonics

Photonics is set to solve challenges electronics face. Its light waves operate at higher frequencies. This means they can transmit signals faster than our current technology. Additionally, light waves can overlap, leading to photonic data transfer. This allows multiple signals to move through optical fibers at the same time.

Thanks to this, we’re seeing a big shift in how quickly we can transmit data. This is crucial in places like data centers, where speed determines success. Optical transceivers are a key part of this new era in technology.

High-Speed Data Transfer with Optical Fibers

Now, optical transceivers are hitting speeds of 400 Gb/s. Some are even pushing 800G. To put it in perspective, these 400G devices operate at rates 100 times faster than a standard office computer. This shows the huge promise of photonic data transfer.

Optical Transceivers and Data Centers

As data needs grow, optoelectronic tech is stepping up. This is especially true for data centers, where rapid data transfer is vital. Optical transceivers are key players in achieving peak performance here.

Challenges in Integrating Photonics on Chips

Despite its promise, integrating photonics isn’t easy. This is especially true when trying to get them working near CPUs and GPUs. The complexity of making and handling photonic data links presents a challenge. They’re far more complex than electrical connections.

Current off-the-shelf optical 400G transceivers400 Gb/s data transfer rate
Clock rate of 400G devices100× higher than CPUs in a regular office computer
Ayar Labs’ TeraPHY chipletIntegrates millions of transistors with hundreds of photonic devices to drive tens of Tbps of bandwidth up to 2 km out of the package with unmatched power efficiency of less than 5pJ/b
Ayar Labs’ optical FPGAConsists of two optical I/O chiplets connected to a 10-nm FPGA fabric die, delivering 5× more bandwidth at a fraction of the power and latency

Advances in Integrated Photonics

Bringing optical signals to board and chip levels has been tough. Commercial uses have been limited. But now things are changing. Ayar Labs, a Silicon Valley startup, has a solution. They made the TeraPHY chiplet for in-package optical use. This chiplet uses GlobalFoundries’ 45-nm process. It combines millions of transistors with photonic devices. It can handle up to tens of Tbps of bandwidth. All of this comes with super low power use, less than 5pJ/b.

Optical Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs)

In 2023, Ayar Labs made a big leap. They introduced an optical field-programmable gate array (FPGA). It has two optical I/O chiplets and a 10-nm FPGA die. This new system offers 5x more bandwidth with less power and latency. It might become the choice for data-heavy tasks in the future.

Photonic Quantum Computing

Photonics can make data transfer fast between chips or chiplets. But, can photons handle main processing tasks? Electrons, with their charge, can store in capacitors. When moved, they make an electromagnetic field. This field affects other electrons, forming transistors. On the other hand, photons aren’t moved by these fields. They have no charge or mass and are always in motion. This makes it hard to create memory or computers with photons directly. So, people look into creating analog computers with photons. For example, a simple prism can quickly transform light. Or, using special masks on a laser, a different beam shape can be made. These are like mini-computers that do one task well.

The Nature of Photons and Electrons

In photonic quantum computing, photons play a key role. They keep their quantum states unless they’re absorbed. This means they can perform powerful computations. Using photonic quantum computing is cheaper and more efficient. It helps with solving big problems in many fields like drug development and finance.

Analog Computers with Photons

Quantum computation is all about using quantum properties to compute better. Photons work great at room temperature. They interact weakly with surroundings, keeping their special properties. Working with photons is easy using existing tech. They can also be connected over long distances.

Beam Shaping as an Analog Computer

In the field of photonic quantum computing, analog computers with photons are getting attention. By changing laser beams with masks, new beam shapes are made. This shows how photons can do specific computer tasks well. It’s another way to grow quantum computing, alongside digital methods.

The Future of Photonic Quantum Computing

The future is bright for photonic quantum computing. Photons have special features that make them perfect for this. They can act as qubits, even at normal temperatures, and keep their state for a long time. This makes them ideal for creating powerful quantum computers by using small, efficient parts.

Yet, there are hurdles to be overcome. Losing photons and the struggle to join many photons together are big issues. Solving these problems will be crucial. It will let us fully use photonic quantum computing in areas like making new materials and drugs, finance, and shipping.

The journey to make great photonic quantum computers is well underway. Breakthroughs in making systems talk to each other better and creating strong links are happening. This will help in building big, reliable quantum computers. As we get better, we hope to see these quantum machines grow in size and power. This could change everything, from the way we live to what’s possible in science and tech.

Challenges in Photonic Quantum Computing

Photonic quantum computing is held back by the loss of photons. Photons, as qubits, can hold information for a long time. But, they can be absorbed, losing this valuable information. This issue slows down the progress of photonic quantum computing.

Photon Loss

Photon loss is a big issue in this field. Loss of photons means losing quantum information. Overcoming photon loss is key for the success of photonic quantum computers.

Entangling Large Numbers of Photons

Bringing together many photons is hard in photonic quantum computing. Yet, this entanglement is crucial for fast quantum computations. Overcoming this challenge is vital for real-world benefits, like improving materials, creating new drugs, and managing finances or logistics.

Another avenue is gate-based quantum computing. Here, qubits are fixed, and gates connect them. Yet, this doesn’t fit well with photons. Tackling issues like photon loss and entanglement is essential for the future of photonic quantum computing.

Quix Quantum and Measurement-Based Quantum Computing

Founded in 2019, Quix Quantum is leading in measurement-based quantum computing. They focus on photonics to make quantum computers more powerful. Their method uses photonic qubits that work at room temperature and last a long time.

The Measurement-Based Approach

In measurement-based quantum computing, making two-qubit gates is replaced by creating a big entangled state first. This big state is made of many photon qubits, which is called a cluster state. Doing things this way might make it easier to build big quantum computers.

Advantages of Photonic Qubits

Photonic quantum computing is cool because it works at room temperature, needs less energy, and can make use of existing communication networks. The team at the RIKEN Center for Quantum Computing is focusing on this kind of computing. They use a method called feedforward to tackle the unpredictability of measurements in quantum systems.

Building Quantum Systems for Researchers

Quix Quantum has sold over a dozen quantum systems. Their customers are quantum research labs and government agencies. Their special technology allows for a wider range of gates in quantum computers. This makes optical quantum computing faster and more versatile.

Scaling Quantum Computers

Scaling quantum computers is vital to solve big world issues much faster. Stephanie Simmons, from Photonic Inc., says we’re moving through three stages. The first involves small, noisy quantum systems. The second phase adds error correction to make quantum computing more reliable. Finally, the third phase plans to join many quantum modules into a powerful quantum supercomputer.

The Role of Entanglement

In the third phase, linking systems is done through generating special entanglement. Photonic Inc., using spin-photon interfaces, aims to create strong entanglement. Their goal is distributed quantum computation. They see this as key to achieving large-speed gains in quantum computing, which the industry has long awaited.

Photonic Inc.’s Approach to Distributed Entanglement

Photonic Inc.’s team works on connecting different quantum systems through networks. They have shown distributed entanglement between several computer chips. This work uses T center qubits, which is a new, promising qubit platform. This approach aims to make quantum computers perform better and do more by creating powerful entanglement.

Applications of Quantum Computing

Quantum computing is a fast-growing field with many upcoming uses. These include chemistry, finance, logistics, and more. As quantum computers get better, they can solve new problems.

Potential Applications in Various Fields

Quantum computing shows promise in many areas like chemistry, finance, and logistics. The size of the quantum computer and data it needs is important. Working with people who will use the technology is key. This helps make special quantum tools to solve real problems.

Unlocking New Possibilities with Scaling

Making quantum computers bigger is a must. This will lead to much faster solutions to global issues. Scientists aim to make better connections between parts of quantum computers. This will make their power much stronger, opening doors for big solutions across many areas.


The future of photonic quantum computing is bright. New progress in key areas is making large-scale quantum computing more reliable. Despite facing challenges like losing photons and the need to entangle more of them, solving these will fully unleash photonic quantum computing’s potential. It will be able to solve intricate issues in various sectors, from creating new materials and drugs to improving finance and logistics.

Looking forward, the ability to grow quantum computers is crucial. This is needed to realize big speed improvements and the powerful impact of quantum computing. Photonics-based quantum technologies hope to make quantum innovations broadly available. They are at the forefront, addressing key problems like getting bigger and dealing with decoherence.

With quick advancements in photonic quantum computing, the future is promising. Researchers and companies are striving to make the most of photon’s unique features and resolve challenges. By using photonic qubits’ benefits and pushing forward in integrated photonics and measuring methods, quantum computing is set for a big change. This change will open up new opportunities and solutions in many fields and uses.


What are the limitations of Moore’s law?

As Moore’s law gets closer to its end, the cost of making denser chips has gone way up. Makers are now building structures that are just a few atoms thick. This has almost hit the limit of how small we can make transistors on a chip. This means that soon, we might not be able to make processors any faster.

How can photonics offer potential solutions to the limitations of electronics?

Light moves in waves with very high frequencies compared to electronics. This higher frequency allows for faster data transfer. Light can also carry multiple signals at once. Optoelectronics and photonics, in particular, are becoming very important in big data centers.

What are the challenges in efficiently integrating photonics on chips?

The main challenge is getting photonics close to computer processors to make them faster and use less energy. Making photonic data links on chips is much harder than making electrical ones. These challenges slow down the integration of photonics with traditional electronic chips.

How are startups like Ayar Labs addressing the integration of photonics on chips?

Ayar Labs has created a special chiplet, TeraPHY, for optical input/output. They are making it using a well-known fabrication process. This chiplet combines millions of transistors with many photonic devices. It can send a large amount of data quickly and with low power use, helping solve the integration challenge.

What are the unique properties of photons that make them a promising platform for quantum computing?

Photons mimic the roles of quantum bits or qubits. They can keep their quantum state for a long time, even at room temperature. This makes them a great option for building large and powerful quantum computers. However, there are still challenges to overcome, like photon loss and entanglement difficulties.

How is Quix Quantum addressing the challenges in photonic quantum computing?

Quix Quantum is leading with a new way of quantum computing. They use measurement-based approaches with photonics. Their method allows for powerful quantum computers at room temperature. So far, they have sold over a dozen quantum systems to research labs and national centers.

What are the key ingredients to link quantum systems and unlock the full potential of quantum computing?

Bringing systems together in quantum computing needs high-quality entanglement. Photonic Inc. aims to do this using spin-photon connections and fiber optics. Their work aims to make quantum computers much stronger and more useful.

What are the potential applications of quantum computing?

Quantum computing could have many uses in the future. It can be big in chemistry, finance, logistics, and more. As quantum computers get bigger and better, they can solve big problems and create new chances all over the world.

Cover Image: Freepik

Tags: , ,

About the Author

Avatar photo

Editorial Officer, I'm an avid tech enthusiast at heart. I like to mug up on new and exciting developments on science and tech and have a deep love for PC gaming. Other hobbies include writing blog posts, music and DIY projects.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top ↑