BBC – How do you build the next-generation internet?

  • quantum communications is an attractive field of research because the technology will enable us to send messages that are much more secure
  •  several problems that will need to be solved in order to make a quantum internet possible
    • Getting quantum computers to talk to each other
    • Making communications secure from hacking
    • Transmitting messages over long distances without losing parts of messages
    • Routing messages across a quantum network
  • in a quantum system – the qubit (quantum bit) – can be both 1 and 0 at the same time. This phenomenon opens the door for multiple calculations to be performed simultaneously
  • qubits need to be synchronised using a quantum effect known as entanglement, which Albert Einstein termed “spooky action at a distance”
  •  four types of quantum computers currently being developed and they use
    • Light particles
    • Trapped ions
    • Supercondicting qubits
    • Nitrogen vacancy centres in diamonds
  • getting quantum devices to talk to each other, then you could connect several quantum computers together and pool their power to form one huge quantum computer
    • since there are four different types of quantum computers being built today, they won’t be all be able to talk to each other without some help
    • Light is better for communications, but matter qubits are better for processing
    • very expensive and difficult to store all information in photons
  • a key application of the quantum internet will be quantum key distribution (QKD), whereby a secret key is generated using a pair of entangled photons,
  • Scientists are also working on “blind quantum computer protocols“, because they allow the user to hide anything they want on a computer
  • two different approaches to building quantum networks – a land-based network and a space-based network
    • Because there’s no air between the satellites in space, there’s nothing to degrade the signal
    • but it’s the most expensive
  • great thing about quantum encryption is you can detect whether someone has tried to intercept the message before it got to you and how many people tried to access it
  • Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) have developed a telecom-compatible quantum memory chip using an erbium-doped crystal. This device is able to store light in the right colour and it is able to do so for longer than one second
    • biggest challenge is now to demonstrate a quantum memory with a large data storage capacity – the memory’s storage capacity that will limit the data transmission rate through the network
    • about five years before the technology [for the quantum internet] is practical.

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