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Motivation

Nature recently published a very interesting article that could lead to a great advance in modern computing. To sum it up, it opens the gate to an optical computer, something just like and ordinary computer but instead of working with electric current, it works with light to transmit information.

An optical computer would be great because we would be able to transfer information much more quickly as light travels much faster than a signal in electric current. An application of optics to transmission of information that everybody knows about is the optic fiber, and an optical computer would be able to manipulate information as fast as it is transmitted via optic fiber cables throughout the world.

Another huge step (and in a different direction) that modern computers are taking is the world of quantum computers, which, roughly, are able to use more than zeroes and ones, using (besides these previous 2) a superposition of them.


Question

I have been thinking about some sort of "unification" of optical and quantum computing. This, in my idea, would be a computer that transfers information trough light, and, more than that, is able to use superposition (thus, it would be an optical quantum computer, i think). Is such a thing "possible", scientifically speaking? If it is not possible trough superposition, can we use entanglement?


References

[ 1 ] https://uwaterloo.ca/institute-for-quantum-computing/quantum-computing-101

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    $\begingroup$ Some of the claims you make could use some references. Do you figure that the velocity of electric current (e.g., ~0.95c in copper wire) is the bottleneck in computing speed? $\endgroup$ – ptomato Mar 4 '17 at 19:50
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This area has been studied.

If you build a computer completely from lasers, linear optics, and coherent state detection (coherent light generation – e.g., by lasers – and coherent state detection are the source and measurement counterparts of linear optical elements) you can prove that it's impossible to do quantum computing.

Thus, for optical quantum computing, you probably either need to make single photons interact (and not just interfere), or you need sources that generate single photons (and not coherent light, as lasers do). Both of these are possible, but difficult experimentally and hard to control precisely.

You should look at the literature on linear optics quantum computing. Here's the Wikipedia article.

The Nature paper seems to be about how to make microwaves interact non-linearly. This is a substantial experimental accomplishment. However, I don't know how well their techniques would work at the single-photon scale, which you would probably need to do to use it for a quantum computer. Microwave photons are generally believed to have too little energy to be practical for quantum computing.

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