Laying Foundations for a Nanophotonics Research Centre and an Emergency Communications Network

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Miller, Heidi
Photonics , Telecommunications , Nanophotonics , Laboratory Design
An interdisciplinary collaboration at Queen's is aiming to advance the frontiers of nanophotonics through shared equipment that will be introduced to the new Nanophotonics Research Centre (NanoRC), enabling picometer- and picosecond-scale observations with light intensities as low as a single photon. Notwithstanding, this requires instruments with high powers (over megawatts of peak optical power) and large footprints (up to multiple square meters). The designs described here interface light sources, spectroscopy, and metrology equipment for this facility. Physical constraints require that equipment be deployed (1) in stations sometimes separated by >50 m and (2) in a flexible manner, so that multiple users sharing some equipment can run dissimilar experiments in parallel. Though my original intention was to design, integrate, and complete the first experiments with components specific to the NanoRC, the pandemic shutdown shifted my research direction: I led the launch of timing electronics in the facility, and, with James Godfrey, performed experiments to lay preliminary steps for progress in quantum optics at the NanoRC. At the time of writing, however, important components like single-photon detectors, light sources, and a triple grating spectrometer are on order or are awaiting purchase. Nevertheless, this facility under construction involves many experimental research questions that need consideration. This thesis explores these design questions with an eye to supporting the overall research effort and providing a reference for future experiments. Some of these experiments will involve materials and infrastructure intended for future telecommunications networks. To understand this field, I pursued an internship at Telecom Metric, a local startup, where I aimed to understand the broader context in which these materials would be used. I provided some design options for telecommunications networks to be used to efficiently and accurately route emergency calls to the closest responders. While this work did not reconcile quantum optics with telecommunications, it provided a glimpse into the very `applied' world of telecommunications, where secure single-photon communication and rapid switches based on novel materials have promising futures.
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