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Thorlabs, Newton NJ

Quantum Optics

August 5, 2024  to August 7, 2024

Number of setups available: 1

Maximum number of participants: 3


Quantum optics is the study of individual quanta of light (photons) to understand their behavior and use within photonics applications, such as computing, communications, and metrology. To further the development of the field, it is paramount for students to build a foundational understanding of quantum concepts and single photon interactions. However, these abstract concepts can be extremely difficult to grasp with standard lectures. Implementing practical hands-on demonstrations can allow students to visualize and interact with key quantum optics concepts and potentially expand their understanding.

Thorlabs has developed a Quantum Optics Educational Kit to offer educators a way to include quantum optics within laboratory courses to demonstrate the differences between classical and non-classical, “quantum” light sources with maximum student interaction. Interaction with the kit begins with the Hanbury Brown and Twiss (HBT) experiment, which is intended to show that attenuating a classical source, such as an alignment laser, with a neutral density (ND) filter will not result in the creation of a suitable single photon source before then moving on to setting up the quantum light source. For the quantum light source, the core components are a 405 nm pump laser and a nonlinear, type-I beta barium borate (BBO) crystal. When the pump laser is incident upon the BBO crystal, spontaneous parametric down conversion (SPDC) generates time-energy entangled photon pairs with an 810 nm wavelength. Once the quantum source is set up, the Grainger-Roger-Aspect experiment is performed and the second order correlation values are calculated in real time allowing for a comparison between the alignment laser and the quantum source. Following this milestone, users set up a Michelson interferometer to demonstrate single photon interference.  The interferometer is then modified by adding several polarizers to demonstrate a quantum eraser, utilizing polarization information to break down single photon interference.


Over the course of this three-day immersion, we will assemble subcomponents of the Thorlabs educational kit, populate the breadboard, and proceed through the core experimental procedures outlined in the kit’s manual.

Required Equipment:

            Laptop – Educational kit’s software package requires Windows® 10 or Higher (64-Bit) and four free USB 2.0 ports (or suitable USB hub).

Safety Considerations:

            The class 3B laser diode used in this kit can emit more than 50 mW of optical power, which can cause damage to the eyes if viewed directly. The laser driver is equipped with a key switch and safety interlock, which should be used appropriately to avoid injury. We will provide laser safety glasses and require their use when the laser is turned on.

Cost of Implementation:

            EDU-QOP1 - Quantum Optics Educational Kit, Imperial: $33,757.26

            B2448FX - Optical Breadboard, 24" x 48" x 2.28", 1/4"-20 Mounting Holes: $1,074.30

Hosts and Mentors:  

Brandon Mitchell is a Professor of Physics at West Chester University who specializes in using rare earth-doped semiconductors for next-generation micro-LED display and quantum information applications. In particular, he is investigating the use of Er-doped GaAs as a material system to realize electrically-pumped single photon emitters in the Telecom C-band. He is also studying Eu-doped GaN for ensemble-based quantum sensing in noisy environments. Dr. Mitchell is the Director of Outreach and Access for the WCU Center for STEM Inclusion. He is also the Director of the WCU S-STEM Program, which focuses on Nanoscience in Health and Technology. Over the last ten years, Dr. Mitchell has taught more than a dozen different courses at every level of the undergraduate physics curriculum. He is currently the instructor for the senior-level advanced physics lab, which incorporates several Thorlabs education experiments, including the new Quantum Optics Kit.

Eric Kurywczak is a Photonics Solutions Engineer with Thorlabs offering dedicated custom solution support for both academic and industry customers.  Eric's previous role in Technical Support included support of Thorlabs' Quantum Optics Educational kit where he presented it at tradeshows and provided invited talks.  In addition, he helped develop the Quantum Optics Experience to allow students to interact with the kit on the Thorlabs Mobile Lab that is currently touring the United States

Please note that the Jonathan F. Reichert Foundation has established a grant program to help purchase apparatus used in Laboratory Immersions. Limitations and exclusions apply, but generally speaking the Foundation may support up to 50% of the cost of the required equipment.

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