Abstract:
A quantum computer is a machine that can perform certain calculations much faster than a classical computer by using the laws of quantum mechanics. Quantum computers do not exist yet, because it is extremely difficult to control quantum mechanical systems to the necessary degree. What is more, we do at this moment not know which physical system is the best suited for making a quantum computer (although we have some ideas). It is likely that a mature quantum information processing technology will use (among others) light, because photons are ideal carriers for quantum information. These notes are an expanded version of the five lectures I gave on the possibility of making a quantum computer using light, at the Summer School in Theoretical Physics in Durban, 14-24 January, 2007. There are quite a few proposals using light for quantum computing, and I can highlight only a few here. I will focus on photonic qubits, and leave out continuous variables completely. I assume that the reader is familiar with basic quantum mechanics and introductory quantum computing.

Abstract:
A possible two-qubit gate for optical quantum computing is the parity gate based on the weak Kerr effect. Two photonic qubits modulate the phase of a coherent state, and a quadrature measurement of the coherent state reveals the parity of the two qubits without destroying the photons. This can be used to create so-called cluster states, a universal resource for quantum computing. Here, the effect of self-phase modulation on the parity gate is studied, introducing generating functions for the Wigner function of a modulated coherent state. For materials with non-EIT-based Kerr nonlinearities, there is typically a self-phase modulation that is half the magnitude of the cross-phase modulation. Therefore, this effect cannot be ignored. It is shown that for a large class of physical implementations of the phase modulation, the quadrature measurement cannot distinguish between odd and even parity. Consequently, weak nonlinear parity gates must be implemented with physical systems where the self-phase modulation is negligable.

Abstract:
Single-photon resolution (SPR) detectors can tell the difference between incoming wave packets of n and n+1 photons. Such devices are especially important for linear optical quantum computing with projective measurements. However, in this paper I show that it is impossible to construct a photodetector with single-photon resolution when we are restricted to single-photon sources, linear optical elements and projective measurements with standard (non-photon-number discriminating) photodetectors. These devices include SPR detectors that sometimes fail to distinguish one- and two-photon inputs, but at the same time indicate this failure.

Abstract:
Optical noon states (|N,0> + |0,N>) are an important resource for Heisenberg-limited metrology and quantum lithography. The only known methods for creating noon states with arbitrary $N$ via linear optics and projective measurments seem to have a limited range of application due to imperfect phase control. Here, we show that bootstrapping techniques can be used to create high-fidelity noon states of arbitrary size.

Abstract:
In quantum information and communication, optical schemes provide simple and intuitive experimental implementations. Of particular importance is quantum state preparation. In this thesis, the creation of polarisation entanglement using a particular class of optical circuits is studied. I give a mathematical description of this class of circuits in terms of Hermite polynomials. In this context, single photon resolution and single photon sensitivity detectors are discussed and compared with detector cascading. In addition, I study applications of state preparation such as quantum teleportation and quantum lithography.

Abstract:
We demonstrate theoretically a scheme for cluster state generation, based on atomic ensembles and the dipole blockade mechanism. In the protocol, atomic ensembles serve as single qubit systems. Therefore, we review single-qubit operations on qubit defined as collective states of atomic ensemble. Our entangling protocol requires nearly identical single-photon sources, one ultra-cold ensemble per physical qubit, and regular photodetectors. The general entangling procedure is presented, as well as a procedure that generates in a single step Q-qubit GHZ states with success probability p_success ~ eta^{Q/2}, where eta is the combined detection and source efficiency. This is significantly more efficient than any known robust probabilistic entangling operation. GHZ states form the basic building block for universal cluster states, a resource for the one-way quantum computer.

Abstract:
We present a new scheme for cluster states generation based on atomic ensembles and the dipole blockade mechanism. The protocol requires identical single photon sources, one ensemble per physical qubit, and regular photodetectors. The general entangling procedure is presented, as well as a procedure that generates Q-qubit GHZ states with probability p ~ eta^{Q/2}, where eta is the combined detection and source efficiency. This is significantly more efficient than any known robust probabilistic entangling operation. The GHZ states form the basic building block for universal cluster states - a resource for the one-way quantum computer.

Abstract:
We investigate the effect of quantum metric fluctuations on qubits that are gravitationally coupled to a background spacetime. In our first example, we study the propagation of a qubit in flat spacetime whose metric is subject to flat quantum fluctuations with a Gaussian spectrum. We find that these fluctuations cause two changes in the state of the qubit: they lead to a phase drift, as well as the expected exponential suppression (decoherence) of the off-diagonal terms in the density matrix. Secondly, we calculate the decoherence of a qubit in a circular orbit around a Schwarzschild black hole. The no-hair theorems suggest a quantum state for the metric in which the black hole's mass fluctuates with a thermal spectrum at the Hawking temperature. Again, we find that the orbiting qubit undergoes decoherence and a phase drift that both depend on the temperature of the black hole. Thirdly, we study the interaction of coherent and squeezed gravitational waves with a qubit in uniform motion. Finally, we investigate the decoherence of an accelerating qubit in Minkowski spacetime due to the Unruh effect. In this case decoherence is not due to fluctuations in the metric, but instead is caused by coupling (which we model with a standard Hamiltonian) between the qubit and the thermal cloud of Unruh particles bathing it. When the accelerating qubit is entangled with a stationary partner, the decoherence should induce a corresponding loss in teleportation fidelity.

Abstract:
The Mandelstam-Tamm and Margolus-Levitin inequalities play an important role in the study of quantum mechanical processes in Nature, since they provide general limits on the speed of dynamical evolution. However, to date there has been only one derivation of the Margolus-Levitin inequality. In this paper, alternative geometric derivations for both inequalities are obtained from the statistical distance between quantum states. The inequalities are shown to hold for unitary evolution of pure and mixed states, and a counterexample to the inequalities is given for evolution described by completely positive trace-preserving maps. The counterexample shows that there is no quantum speed limit for non-unitary evolution.

Abstract:
We study the use of detection devices in entanglement-based state preparation. In particular we consider optical detection devices such as single-photon sensitivity detectors, single-photon resolution detectors and detector cascades (with an emphasis on the performance of realistic detectors). We develop an extensive theory for the use of these devices. In entanglement-based state preparation we perform measurements on subsystems, and we therefore need precise bounds on the distinguishability of these measurements (this is fundamentally different from, e.g., tomography, where an ensemble of identical states is used to determine probability distributions, etc.). To this end, we introduce the confidence of preparation, which may also be used to quantify the performance of detection devices in entanglement-based preparation. We give a general expression for detector cascades of arbitrary size for the detection up to two photons. We show that, contrary to the general belief, cascading does not give a practical advantage over detectors with single-photon resolution in entanglement-based state preparation.