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Prof. F. Petruccione


Francesco Petruccione was born in 1961 in Genova (Italy).  He studied Physics at the University of Freiburg i. Br.(Germany) and received his PhD in 1988. He got his “Habilitation” (Dr. rer. nat. habil.) from the same University in 1994 and worked there as Associate Professor of Theoretical Physics until 2003. In 2004 he was appointed Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. In 2005 he was awarded an Innovation Fund grant to set up a Centre for Quantum Technology. In 2007 he was granted a South African Research Chair for Quantum Information Processing and Communication from the National Research Foundation. He is the Deputy-Director of the National Institute of Theoretical Physics. Since March 2008 he is a member of the Board of the UKZN Innovation Company.

Prof. Petruccione has published more than 90 papers in refereed journals. He is the co-author of a monograph on “The Theory of Open Quantum Systems”, that was published in 2002, reprinted as paperback in 2007, and is being translated in Russian at the moment. He is a member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal "Open Systems and Information Dynamics". He is the editor of several proceedings volumes and of special editions of  scientific journals. He has been invited to deliver more than 50 talks.

The miniaturization of technological devices necessitates the manipulation of objects at the nanoscale level at which coherent quantum mechanical processes start to dominate the physical properties.

The unavoidable interaction of these systems with their environment gives rise to dissipative mechanisms and a strong loss of quantum coherence, i.e. decoherence. Since perfect isolation of quantum systems is not possible, it is of central importance to incorporate the methods and tools of the theory of quantum systems in the exploration of quantum technologies. Prof. Petruccione has contributed to the development of the theory of open quantum systems, which is at the basis of recent quantum information technological applications

The basic concept of Quantum Information Processing and Communication (QIPC) is that information is actually stored, processed and communicated according to the laws of quantum physics: the classical "bit" is replaced by the quantum mechanical "qubit". This "quantum" dimension enables Quantum Computers to perform tasks we will never achieve with ordinary IT. For example, quantum computers hold the promise for solving efficiently some computationally hard problems, like e.g. large integer factorisation or the simulation of quantum systems. Although this field is relatively new and in rapid develpoment research clearly indicates that a whole new quantum information technology (QIT) is emerging.

The most advanced new quantum technology is Quantum Cryptography.  Thanks to a generous grant of the Innovation Fund the Research Group of Prof. Petruccione is realizing a quantum key distribution system. Following a quantum protocol a cryptographic key is encoded into the polarization states of single photons (qubits). The security of the transmission of the key between two parties is guaranteed by the laws of quantum mechanics. The realization of the project involves  the development of quantum devices such as single photon sources and detectors. The flagship project of the Research Group is the realization of a quantum network in the optical fiber network of the Ethekwini Municipality. This quantum network allows the secure exchange of communication between four parties. The project has been generously sponsored by the Ethekwini Municipality and will be launched at the SmartCity conference in October 2008. This will be worldwide the first such network operating in a Municipality and will make Durban the first Quantum City.

The vision behind these efforts is to kick start the development of  a Quantum Information Processing and Communication industry in Durban and KwaZulu-Natal. This is well in line with the  national initiatives promoted by the DST to support Photonics and Nanotechnology developments in the Country. In fact QIPC offers the unique opportunity to exploit the synergy of both Nanotechnology and Photonics. The first milestone on the industrialization road map is to spin-off of a company from the UKZN Research Group and embed it into the strategic plans of the existing KZN ICTE Cluster. Plans in this direction are well under way.








Contact Details:

Office : H3-24
Postal address: UKZN, School of Physics, Westville Campus
Private Bag X54001, Durban 4000, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0)31 2602770
Tel: +27 (0)31 2607994 (Mrs Diane Sivil)
Fax: +27 (0)31 2607795







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