Quantum computing: Photon startup lights up the future of computers and cryptography

A fast-growing UK startup is quietly making strides in the promising field of quantum photonics. Cambridge-based company Nu Quantum is building devices that can emit and detect quantum particles of light, called single photons. With a freshly secured £2.1 million ($2.71 million) seed investment, these devices could one day underpin sophisticated quantum photonic systems, for applications ranging from quantum communications to quantum computing.

The company is developing high-performance light-emitting and light-detecting components, which operate at the single-photon level and at ambient temperature, and is building a business based on the combination of quantum optics, semiconductor photonics, and information theory, spun out of the University of Cambridge after eight years of research at the Cavendish Laboratory.

“Any quantum photonic system will start with a source of single photons, and end with a detector of single photons,” Carmen Palacios-Berraquero, the CEO of Nu Quantum, tells ZDNet. “These technologies are different things, but

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Watch live: Quantum computing, cryptography and healthcare headline Upgrade 2020 event

The technology world has a lengthy track record of game-changing innovations generated by research labs, ranging from transistors and hard drives to the graphical user interface, which made it possible for humans to interact with computers without having to write code.

The Japanese telecom company NTT Ltd. is now seeking to follow in those same footsteps with a research lab it opened in 2019 in Silicon Valley. The NTT Research lab aims to develop technologies for cryptographic and information security, quantum and neuro-science computing, and healthcare informatics. The company, which spends about $3.6 billion each year on R&D, is hosting its virtual Upgrade 2020 – The NTT Research Summit from September 28–October 1. In attendance will be prominent academics and scientists to see presentations on emerging new technologies.

“Emerging technologies have a way of looking futuristic, until they’re not,” said Kazuhiro Gomi, president and chief executive officer of

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