Nature 409, 46-52 (4 January 2001) | doi:10.1038/35051009; Received 24 July 2000; Accepted 13 November 2000

A scheme for efficient quantum computation with linear optics

E. Knill1, R. Laflamme1 & G. J. Milburn2

  1. Los Alamos National Laboratory, MS B265, Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545, USA
  2. Centre for Quantum Computer Technology, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Australia

Correspondence to: E. Knill1 Correspondence and requests for materials should be sent to E. Knill (e-mail: Email:


Quantum computers promise to increase greatly the efficiency of solving problems such as factoring large integers, combinatorial optimization and quantum physics simulation. One of the greatest challenges now is to implement the basic quantum-computational elements in a physical system and to demonstrate that they can be reliably and scalably controlled. One of the earliest proposals for quantum computation is based on implementing a quantum bit with two optical modes containing one photon. The proposal is appealing because of the ease with which photon interference can be observed. Until now, it suffered from the requirement for non-linear couplings between optical modes containing few photons. Here we show that efficient quantum computation is possible using only beam splitters, phase shifters, single photon sources and photo-detectors. Our methods exploit feedback from photo-detectors and are robust against errors from photon loss and detector inefficiency. The basic elements are accessible to experimental investigation with current technology.