The funding came from the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
The goal of the projects is to develop new theory and experimental techniques that enable optical communications and imaging systems to operate at their ultimate limits of information encoding efficiency as permitted by the laws of quantum physics.
The first project, Photon Information Efficient Communications, aims to create techniques that increase the limits of optical communications technology while approaching the ultimate limits of photon information efficiency.
Achieving this goal will significantly increase power management, speed and reach on free space optical communication links, including far-field links used in deep space.
"Today, optical communications are far from ultimate performance and reaching the furthest limits of light's information carrying capacity," said Saikat Guha, Raytheon BBN Technologies scientist. "We are developing techniques that greatly improve the performance of current optical communications and approach the quantum limits of light's information carrying capacity."
Raytheon BBN said it will generate and demonstrate experimental solutions, such as multiple-spatial-mode design and adaptive joint-detection receivers that attain communications at 10-bits per photon and 5-bits/sec/Hz while simultaneously encoding information in space and time.
The work will be done in collaboration with leading researchers in optical communications, quantum optics and information theory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The second project -- Fundamental Information Capacity of Electromagnetism with Squeezing and Spatial Entanglement -- aims to determine the theoretical performance limits for imaging technology.
In collaboration with the University of Virginia, Raytheon BBN Technologies will conduct a theoretical and experimental program of study, investigating newly engineered quantum states of light to perform imaging with performance superior to conventional techniques.
"Conventional imaging techniques use classical light pulses from lasers and detect the resulting reflection from a target or scene," said Jonathan Habif, Raytheon BBN Technologies senior scientist. "We have set out to define new quantum states of light and subsequent detection methods from which we can obtain far more image information from a lot less light."