Gaby Slavcheva and Mirella Koleva of Quantopticon

Gaby Slavcheva, CSO, and Mirella Koleva, CEO, of Quantopticon

Quantopticon is developing simulation software for designing and optimizing quantum photonic devices. Called Quantillion, the software models the behavior of quantum photonic devices driven by light pulses with unparalleled accuracy and has applications in quantum computing and ultra-secure quantum communications.

The Guildford, UK-based company was founded in 2017 by mother-daughter duo Gaby Slavcheva, chief scientific officer, and Mirella Koleva, CEO.

“Our overarching goal is to develop a simulation suite, a toolbox for designing entire quantum photonic integrated circuits,” said Koleva. “This is really what is going to lead to a large-scale universal quantum photonic computer, and we are working toward that.”

At this stage, the company is addressing individual components of the photonic quantum computer, explained Koleva, who specializes in the fields of optics and photonics. Koleva greatly contributed toward the implementation of the theoretical methodology into Quantillion’s code, particularly in extending the framework to describe quantum systems with an arbitrary number of energy levels.

The software models interactions of light with matter and eliminates the need to carry out repeated experiments to test and optimize physical prototypes.

“We have a unique methodology for simulation of quantum dynamics in these devices and quantum photonic components embedded in different photonic structures,” explained Slavcheva. This methodology can shorten the optimization process from 26 weeks to 2 and decrease costs by 90% by providing a blueprint of an optimized design to accelerate development and cut costs.

“We want to be leaders in this area and become part of the product design cycle for semiconductor foundries,” said Slavcheva. “We’d like to accelerate the pace of innovation in this field and enable mass manufacturing of quantum photonic devices.”

An international leader in the theory and modeling of light-matter interactions in quantum photonic nanostructures and devices, Slavcheva conceived, developed, and implemented the methodology underlying Quantillion.

“As I was finishing my PhD, Gaby was talking about what she was working on and the enormous impact it could have on the advent of quantum technology. That was back in 2014 when the word quantum was virtually unheard of,” said Koleva, speaking about the inception of Quantopticon. “It became very clear to me that what she was doing could genuinely change the world and we could both be a part of this adventure.”

The two have complementary skills, but still had to navigate the unique dynamics of working with family. “It was obvious that Gaby would be the CTO having so many decades of experience under her belt and being the real expert in this field,” said Koleva, “and I would be the CEO making use of my networking, management, and decision-making skills.”

With their roles in the company solidified, the duo has been living together during the pandemic – and the work doesn’t stop, day or night, said Slavcheva. “The fact that we’ve made it work, I think, is a real testament to how ambitious and headstrong we are,” added Koleva.

From 2018 to 2019, the company was supported by a grant from the UK government and joined the inaugural cohort of Duality earlier this year, with plans to relocate to Chicago as soon as possible.

“We are very much looking forward to coming physically to Chicago and to meet with the extensive quantum community there. We want to establish connections with professors and group leaders in the field, and to run pilots studies with them,” said Koleva. “Duality will introduce us to a variety of key individuals, not just in academia but also in government, the investment world, and commerce, which will be very beneficial to the development of our company and will open new avenues for us.”

Quantopticon is celebrating the news that the company was just awarded a grant from the European Space Agency, along with collaborators from experimental groups in the University of Oxford and Technical University of Munich. Together, the team will develop high-quality single-photon sources for the first European quantum encryption satellite.


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