"It's the Space Race of the 21st century" --The Major Roadblock to a Quantum Computer May Just Have Been Solved (WATCH Today's 'Galaxy' Stream)
The quantum computer has the potential to revolutionize the 21st century, solving problems so massively complex th today’s computers would take a century to solve. But a single quantum computer is still no match for the more than billion classical computers currently in use. But, as with classical computers, quantum computers need a quantum internet, and researchers at The Australian National University may have found the perfect way to store quantum data long enough to share the information around a next-generation internet which promises to be impervious to hacking.
The work, published in Nature Physics, addresses a crucial challenge that has eluded researchers worldwide. Lead researcher Associate Professor Matthew Sellars from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering said the improved storage was an important part of a viable quantum internet.
The team used a rare earth element, called erbium, in a crystal shown above 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.
“This can be inefficient, and means they have to do three very difficult things instead of just one.”
First author and PhD scholar Miloš Rančić said the new technology can also be operated as a quantum light source or used as an optical link for solid-state quantum computing devices, connecting them to the quantum internet.
“Our technology can connect with many types of quantum computers including CQC2T’s silicon qubits and superconducting qubits, which Google and IBM are developing,” said Mr Rančić from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering and the CQC2T.
The Daily Galaxy via ANU