‘Great feeling’ to get US patent

Physicists (from left) Prof Niels Kjaergaard and Dr Amita Deb,  holding a radio 
Physicists (from left) Prof Niels Kjaergaard and Dr Amita Deb, holding a radio antenna, reflect on new quantum radio technology. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Dunedin physicists Dr Amita Deb and Prof Niels Kjaergaard have gained a United States patent for their new quantum radio technology.

The researchers work at the University of Otago physics department, and the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies.

Their new, world-first "Ry-Fi" system uses an optical antenna based on Rydberg atoms which can convert data from wireless radio to optical fibre communications without any linking electronics.

The system effectively uses a gas of "singing atoms" which convert voices and radio music and transmit them via fibre optic cable.

"It’s quite exciting," Dr Deb said.

It was also a "great feeling" to gain the US patent, which was hard to achieve, he said.

The technology used atoms to encode wireless data at very high frequencies on to laser light, and huge amounts of information could be transmitted.

The information could travel thousands of kilometres via cable with little loss of signal strength, and with high security — the latter point already attracting overseas interest.

Centre director Prof David Hutchinson said

that such developments could contribute to the future of New Zealand’s high-technology industries, which already generated $1.2billion a year, he said.

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