Quantum technologies, using the fundamental quantum effects of superposition and entanglement, promise many improved or completely new applications. Specific examples are the encoding of formerly unbreakable messages using quantum cryptography or orders-of-magnitude faster quantum computers. The promise of quantum technologies is recognized worldwide, leading to strategic funding initiatives like the Quantum Technologies Flagship of the European Union or the German initiative QUTEGA, which identified four main application areas:

  • Quantum communication
  • Quantum computing and simulation
  • Quantum sensing and metrology
  • Quantum imaging

In all these domains, optical technologies are playing an important role, either because photons are carriers of quantum information or because photons are used to probe the quantum system carrying out a certain task. Hence, the development and promotion of optical quantum technologies, one of the pillars of InQuoSens’ mission, is crucial for the fulfilment of the potential inherent in quantum technologies.


Quantum optics

Contact: Dr. Frank Setzpfandt, f.setzpfandt@uni-jena.de

© Jan-Peter Kasper / FSU

The Quantum Optics research group at the Abbe Center of Photonics in Jena is focusing on the generation of non-classical states of light and their application using theoretical and experimental approaches. Mainly, we are studying the generation of photon pairs by spontaneous nonlinear processes in various nonlinear photonic systems ranging from bulk crystals over different waveguide structures to nanostructured or atomically thin surfaces. We aim to fundamentally understand the nonlinear effects leading to photon-pair generation and how they depend on the material and geometry of the sources. We use this understanding to tailor the properties of the generated two-photon quantum states, like spectrum, spatial distribution, and entanglement, to meet the demands of specific applications.

Furthermore, we investigate also the application of photon pairs for quantum-enhanced imaging and spectroscopy techniques, where they can enable measurements with better signal-to-noise ratio or in hardly accessible wavelength ranges. Our research on one hand tries to understand fundamental aspects of quantum measurements, including the interaction of the photons with the samples under investigation, to develop new imaging and spectroscopy methods. On the other hand, we aim at bringing quantum imaging and spectroscopy closer towards applications by developing integrated measurement devices.

Nano & quantum optics

Contact: Prof. Thomas Pertsch, thomas.pertsch@uni-jena.de

© Jan-Peter Kasper / FSU

The Nano & Quantum Optics group at the Abbe Center of Photonics examines fundamental effects of nanostructured materials and quantum photonic systems in close collaboration between scientists in theory, technology, and experimental characterization. In nano optics, the vectorial nature of the electro-magnetic field as well as scattering and reflection into almost every spatial direction rules the optical response of these structures. In quantum optics, the quantum properties of few photon states allow realizing applications, which are relying directly on the entanglement of such states. Particularly, in our group we are able to cover the whole process chain of design, modeling, fabrication, characterization and functional evaluation of nano and quantum optical structures with the aim of realizing and using optical systems with added functionality.

Beside our strong commitment to explore the fascinating fields of nano and quantum optics, further main research directions of the group address a broad field of photonics-related topics. On the one hand, we study fundamental science phenomena such as linear and nonlinear properties of optical microresonators, photonic crystals, and spatio-temporal dynamics in discrete optical systems. On the other hand, we are strongly engaged in application-oriented research fields, where we investigate, e.g., innovative approaches in near-field microscopy, quantum imaging, nonlinear imaging and spectroscopic techniques for biological specimen, and photon management in solar cells.

Quantum enhanced imaging

Contact: Dr. Markus Gräfe, markus.graefe@iof.fraunhofer.de

© Jan-Peter Kasper / FSU

The Quantum Enhanced Imaging group at the Fraunhofer Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering is concerned with applied research in the field of quantum-enhanced imaging and metrology. Our aim is to transfer fundamental quantum science into applicable technology tackling actual challenges in the field of photonic sensing. Harnessing quantum states of light, novel techniques for imaging, spectroscopy, and metrology are realizable, which exhibit particular quantum benefits when it comes to sensitivity, available spectral range, and spatial resolution. In a close network containing both academic and industry partners, we develop essential prototypes as turnkey devices to demonstrate that quantum technology is capable of delivering new tools for material analysis and life science, and thus, opens new research paths beyond quantum physics.

Quantum communication technologies

Contact: Dr. Fabian Steinlechner, fabian.steinlechner@iof.fraunhofer.de

© Jan-Peter Kasper / FSU

The Quantum Communication Technologies group at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering conducts applied research in the field of quantum communication and photonic quantum information processing. Working in close collaboration with partners in academia and industry, we aim to bridge the gap between fundamental quantum research and real-world applications. Our research focuses on novel quantum light sources for applications in quantum communication and sensing, efficient processing and detection schemes for high-dimensional quantum information, as well as scalable methods for the transmission of quantum states over long distances. A central goal is to incorporate photonic quantum technologies in robust, field-deployable hardware systems that are suitable for integration in future quantum networks, long-distance atmospheric free-space links, and ultimately satellite-based quantum key distribution systems.

Quantum materials

Contact: Dr. Falk Eilenberger, falk.eilenberger@uni-jena.de

© Jan-Peter Kasper / FSU

Quantum Materials are treated within the Junior Research Group “Optics in 2D-Materials”. We are dedicated to the understanding of light-matter-interaction in atomically thin layers of nanomaterials, to the tailoring of their optical response, and to leveraging their properties for applications in photonics. Our research is particularly focused on transition-metal dichalcogenides (TMDs), which naturally form monomolecular and semiconducting sheets thinner than a nanometer but with an enormous degree of light-matter interaction. These effects are driven by their unusual geometry: electrons can move quite freely within the layer but are confined in the vertical direction.

Their extreme electro-optical properties and miniscule size make TMDs ideal workhorses for fundamental investigations in the nano- and quantum-photonic realm. Fundamental effects such as fluorescence, nonlinear interaction or the emission of quantum states of light have been observed for TMDs. Their dependence on the electronic and photonic properties of their environment and their femtosecond dynamics remain, however, largely unexplored.

TMDs are also interesting candidates for a plethora of applications in photonics, ranging from microscopy over novel kinds of photonic components all the way to quantum light sources. Our group aims to explore such applications, investigate fabrication routes, and demonstrate their usage for relevant application scenarios.

Quantum hardware

Contact: Dr. Erik Beckert, erik.beckert@iof.fraunhofer.de

© Jan-Peter Kasper / FSU

The Quantum Hardware group at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF aims for transferring quantum optics and photonics setups, created in advanced and ground-breaking fundamental research, into field-deployable, ruggedized, compact and, last but not least, cost efficient devices. The group uses unique quantum, physics and opto-mechanical engineering expertise for the design, assembly, alignment and packaging of quantum hardware, making use of bulk optics, micro-optics and even integrated optics approaches to serve for standard and harsh application environments such as telecom, automotive, aviation and space. The group’s focus is, for example, on highly brilliant, multi-degree of freedom single and entangled photon sources, but serves in general for the full quantum chain, from the generation to the distribution and detection of photons that have quantum properties. Typical application scenarios are quantum communication networks in fibers and free-space, quantum enhanced imaging setups in microscopy and lidar, and quantum computers and their network architectures.

Advanced fabrication technologies for nano & microoptics

Contact: apl. Prof. Uwe Zeitner, uwe.zeitner@uni-jena.de

© Jan-Peter Kasper / FSU

The main goal of this research work is the creation of the scientific and technological basis to make novel diffractive approaches for a highly flexible fabrication of micro- and nanostructures available for optical applications. Our knowledge is explored for the consistent development of innovative technological methods for the precise realization of nanoscale optical structures in application-oriented areas. Furthermore, those techniques can be transferred with reasonable investments onto the existing infrastructure of the optical and semiconductor industry.

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Fields of expertise in sensing technologies