Scientists from the QuTech Institute at Delft University in the Netherlands have made major advances in quantum computing. They succeeded in transmitting information in a quantum manner, paving the way for a future quantum Internet.
Quantum computing, infinite possibilities
First of all, we must understand that quantum computing is completely different from classical computing, because it uses the properties of the quantum world, that is, the infinitesimal. In fact, elementary particles do not behave at all in the same way as we do in our daily lives, hence the interest of researchers in their computing properties. For example, it can exist in different states simultaneously.
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It is enough to compare bits and bits to realize the potential of this technology. Bits are processed by classical computers to store information and can only exist in the form of 0 or 1. Qubits, an analogue of the bit in quantum computing, can exist as 1 and 0 simultaneously, allowing a quantum computer to perform calculations, for example example, is far more complex than its traditional counterparts.
At the moment, the field of quantum computing is still in its infancy. But every step forward is important because it brings us closer to a world of endless possibilities. Ultimately, but it is impossible to know when, quantum computers should be able to perform tasks in minutes that would take existing supercomputers thousands of years.
Three-node quantum network
The Dutch researchers participating in the study discussed today and published it in the journal temper nature, developed the first three-node quantum network in 2021, and this was the same network that was used for the experiment. You should know that quantum information can be transmitted by optical fibers, but photons are lost over long distances, so the information they contain also disappears. Quantum teleportation therefore appears to be the ideal solution, but it is still necessary to successfully implement it.
QuTech’s network of triple nodes is not fully connected. Placed in a separate laboratory, several meters apart, each of the three nodes called by Alice, Bob and Charlie contain qubits of information made from vacant nitrogen centers, imperfections in the lattice of carbon atoms of diamond. Only one of the nodes, Bob, contains a memory qubit designed from a neighboring carbon atom. Bob is connected to Alice and Charlie, but the latter two are not related to each other, as shown in the video below:
Quantum entanglement is necessary to transmit information over a distance
The first step in teleporting quantum information from a transmitter (Alice) to a receiver (Charlie) is to create an entanglement between their respective qubits. Quantum entanglement is a phenomenon in which two particles form a correlated system, exhibiting quantum states that depend on each other regardless of the distance between them.
Thus the two cease to be individual particles with specific states of their own and become a system with a single wave function. To achieve this, Alice establishes a tangle with Bob, and any action that occurs in her is immediately repeated in him. Then it was Bob’s turn to establish a relationship with Charlie. The result: Bob allows Alice and Charlie to create a tangle between them if they are not connected.
” After preparing for the entanglement between Alice and Charlie, the state to be teleported is created and then executed. Then something happens that is only possible in the quantum world: after the measurement, the information disappears from Charlie’s side and immediately appears on Alice’s side. Ronald Hanson, a physicist at QuTech and lead author of the study explains.
In other words, information was transmitted over a distance from one node to another, without traversing space or fibers; In this way, it cannot be lost on the way as with optical fibres, is very secure, and is an essential component of building a functional network.
Small step with big repercussions
This isn’t the first time researchers have investigated quantum teleportation. Five years ago, researchers from the Chinese University of Science and Technology were able to transmit photons from Earth to the Micius satellite, in an orbit at an altitude of 1,400 km. On the other hand, the quantum teleportation of information made by Dutch scientists is the first, and it is much more complex. It could really give us a glimpse of what a quantum web would look like.
” Besides the quality of the experiment, the demonstration of a complex quantum communication configuration with three nodes and highly complex communication algorithms, lays the foundation for its extension into scalable configurations of entanglement distribution and quantum communication which are very promising. García Ripoll, a researcher at the Institute of Fundamental Physics of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and co-founder of Inspiration-Q, told the Daily El País.
Now, scientists want to increase the number of qubits of memory, which will allow more complex protocols to be run, but also to use the technology outside of the lab. Of course, this progress is only a first (small) step towards the deployment of a wide quantum network, which should not see the light of day for at least ten years, but it is also not easy to take lightly.
If the quantum internet is still a long way off, experts are already preparing for the potential dangers it poses. For example, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), located in the United States, is already working on quantum force encryption to prevent future quantum cyber attacks.
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