New invention: broadband quantum limited frequency up-converter

20 February 2020

Researchers at Oxford have devised a broadband high efficiency frequency up-converter based on the nonlinear wave mixing mechanism in a travelling wave parametric device. The up-converter exhibits quantum-limit noise performance, high conversion efficiency and cleanly defined spectral components. Key application areas include quantum-computing, astronomical experimentation and cryogenic readout applications.

A frequency up-converter is a device that converts low-frequency input signal to a high-frequency output signal. Generation of signals at high frequency, with cleanly defined spectral components, high output power and low noise is important for many applications including telecommunications and signal processing. For example, such signals may be useful as a local oscillator in heterodyne receivers, for frequencies from radio waves to THz.

Based on the similar working principles of a Travelling Wave Parametric Amplifier (TWPA), researchers at Oxford have devised a broadband frequency up-converter, using nonlinear transmission medium and dispersion control elements.

The up-converter exhibits quantum-limited noise performance, which is important for extremely sensitive systems such as quantum-computing or astronomical applications. It is embodied in planar circuit form, therefore it is compact and lossless as it is comprised of superconducting materials. Where most frequency converters can only achieve low conversion efficiency of 5-20%, in this invention, more than 50% of the incoming signal is converted to the desired high-frequency component. More importantly, since this device can operate without any biasing electronics and it is formed using superconducting material, the heat dissipation is extremely low.

Examples of application areas include astronomical experimentation, quantum computing experiments, cryogenic systems, telecommunications, signal processing and microwave engineering applications.

Patent protection

A patent has been filed which covers this technology. Oxford University Innovation is interested in talking to potential partners to aid in the commercialisation of this invention.