In a study published in the journal Nature Physics, a team of researchers from the Australian National Univeristy Research School of Physics and Engineering says they have made a significant achievement that could bring quantum computing and the much anticipated quantum internet closer to reality.
According to Lead researcher Associate Professor Matthew Sellars “the effort to build a quantum computer is often described as the space race of the 21st century” and said that the improved storage was an important part of a viable quantum internet.
The team used a rare earth element, called erbium, in a crystal to increase the storage time of telecom-compatible quantum memory by 10,000 times compared to previous efforts.
Erbium has unique quantum properties and operates in the same bandwidth as existing fibre optic networks, eliminating the need for a conversion process.
“We have shown that an erbium-doped crystal is the perfect material to form the building blocks of a quantum internet that will unlock the full potential of future quantum computers,” Dr Sellars said.
“We had this idea 10 years ago, but many of our peers told us that such a simple idea couldn’t work. Seeing this result, it feels great to know that our approach was the right one.”
Dr Rose Ahlefeldt from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering said quantum memory allowed scientists to buffer and synchronise quantum information, operations necessary for long- range and ultra-secure encrypted communications.
“At the moment researchers are using memories that don’t work at the right wavelength, and have to employ a complicated conversion process to and from the communications wavelength,” said Dr Ahlefeldt, who is a Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) Fellow and is also from the CQC2T.
In another development, state media in China said that the country effort to build a “hack proof” communications has advanced further as it has set up its first “commercial” quantum network for exclusive use by more than 200 government and official users in its northern province of Shandong provincial capital, Jinan.
In August, China which sees itself the leading nation when it comes to developing quantum technology said it sent its first “unbreakable” quantum code from an experimental satellite to the Earth. The Pentagon has called the launch of that satellite a year earlier a “notable advance”.
The network provides secure telephone and data communication services and is expected to be connected to a Beijing-Shanghai quantum network.
Quantum channels send messages embedded in light, and experts say that attempts to disrupt or eavesdrop on them would create detectable disturbances in the system.