New nanotechnology paves the way for a ‘quantum internet’

A scientific breakthrough in the field of quantum mechanics could lead to the creation of a new, untraceable internet.

A team of researchers from the University of Vienna, led by Ralf Riedinger, has successfully constructed a system capable of receiving as well as storing quantum information.

Riedinger’s team has essentially built a working quantum router – a major step in realising a fully functioning quantum internet, which would make it possible to send information from one part of the world to another with perfect privacy.

More importantly, the system can be modified to work at microwave frequencies, which will allow it to link up with quantum computers which work at these frequencies, paving the way towards a complete quantum infrastructure.

“Combining our results with optomechanical devices capable of transferring quantum information from the optical to the microwave domain could provide a backbone for a future quantum internet using superconducting quantum computers,” said Riedinger to the MIT Technology Review.

The device consists of two separate nano-sized silicon resonators connected to fiber optic cable emitting light at a resonance frequency of 5.1 gigahertz, causing the resonators to vibrate at the exact frequency of the emitted light, as well as entangling the two resonators with one another, and the optical fiber.

Once entangled, two or more systems need to be treated as a single entity, which allows us to send information through the vibrations of the system. Physicists have sought to exploit this phenomenon which has the potential to revolutionise communication technology as we know it.

Nanomechanical resonator
Picture of a nanomechanical resonator. // image taken from: microchem.com

 

Although the resonators were only 20cm apart in this experiment, there is nothing standing in the way of scaling up the experiment in the future.

“We do not see any additional restrictions to extend this to several kilometres and beyond,” Riedinger’s team wrote.

“The system presented here is directly scalable to more devices and could be integrated into a real quantum network”.

The question on everyone’s mind is: how soon will this be possible?

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