Quantum photonics could make possible future quantum information systems far more powerful than today's computers. The research team is led by Vladimir M. Shalaev, scientific director of nanophotonics at Purdue's Birck Nanotechnology Center and the Robert and Anne Burnett Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The technology hinges on using single photons – the tiny particles that make up light – for switching and routing in future computers that might harness the exotic principles of quantum mechanics. The quantum information processing technology would use structures called "metamaterials," artificial nanostructured media. The metamaterials, when combined with tiny optical emitters, could make possible a new hybrid technology that uses quantum light in future computers. Computers based on quantum physics would have quantum bits, or qubits, that exist in both the on and off states simultaneously, dramatically increasing the computer's power and memory. Quantum computers would take advantage of a strange phenomenon described by quantum theory called entanglement. Instead of only the states of one and zero, there are many possible entangled quantum states in between one and zero. "Other important quantum information applications include, for example, a quantum internet, secure information, quantum simulators, atomic clocks, ultra-powerful sensors, quantum cryptography and teleportation," Shalaev said.