Quantum internet edges closer to reality

Scientists reach milestone with stable photons


In a stride towards the realisation of the quantum internet, researchers from the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the Ferdinand-Braun-Institut have achieved a remarkable feat – the generation of photons with stable frequencies emitted from quantum light sources. This achievement brings us one step closer to the elusive quantum internet, a transformative concept that could revolutionize the way we communicate and process information.

This remarkable development, published in the journal Physical Review X, underscores the immense promise and ongoing efforts in the quest for the quantum internet. While it remains in the developmental phase, the future holds the tantalizing possibility of a quantum internet that can seamlessly connect quantum computers worldwide, ushering in a new era of secure, high-speed, and transformative communication and computation.

The potential applications of the quantum internet are both thrilling and diverse. It could provide fundamentally secure communication, where data privacy is guaranteed by the laws of physics. Moreover, it could unite quantum processors into vast quantum computing clusters, enabling powerful computations 'in the cloud.' This approach, known as networked quantum computing, offers scalability beyond traditional quantum computing efforts.

Understanding quantum internet

The quantum internet, a theoretical marvel, envisions an interconnected web of quantum computers and quantum communication devices. Unlike our current internet, which relies on classical computing and radio waves, the quantum internet harnesses the fascinating properties of quantum mechanics. If successfully implemented, it could become a specialized branch of the existing internet, catering to highly specialised applications with profound implications across various domains.

Quantum Computing: At the heart of the quantum internet lies quantum computing, a technology already in use by academic and private organizations. It facilitates the sharing of information at atomic and subatomic levels, providing unparalleled speed and security compared to classical computing.

Qubits: Quantum internet allows the exchange of quantum information using qubits, the quantum counterparts of classical bits. Qubits possess unique characteristics; they cannot be interpreted with standard hardware, copied, or destroyed. The number of qubits in a system determines its processing power.

Superposition: Quantum systems, unlike classical computers, can exist in multiple states simultaneously, a phenomenon known as superposition. This capability offers tremendous computational advantages.

Entanglement: Quantum entanglement is a phenomenon where particles, regardless of distance, behave in tandem. It enables instant information transfer, promising unmatched security in data transmission.

Quantum infrastructure: Quantum computers require extremely low temperatures to function, often approaching absolute zero. This necessitates specialized infrastructure to maintain the integrity of quantum information.

The Photon breakthrough

The recent breakthrough by the Berlin-based research team centers around photons – particles of light. These photons, emitted from nitrogen-vacancy defect centers in diamond nanostructures, possess stable frequencies, a critical requirement for long-distance data transmission in a quantum network. Achieving this stability involved meticulous material selection, advanced nanofabrication techniques, and precise experimental control protocols. By minimizing electron-induced noise during nanostructure fabrication, the team successfully eliminated fluctuations in photon frequency, a significant hurdle in quantum operations.

These findings suggest that communication rates between spatially separated quantum systems could potentially increase by more than 1,000-fold, a remarkable stride forward on the path to a functioning quantum internet. The researchers integrated individual qubits into diamond nanostructures, which are 1,000 times thinner than a human hair, enabling directed photon transmission into optical fibers.