With the progress of data teleportation, the “quantum Internet” is getting closer

From Santa Barbara, California to Hefei, China, scientists are developing new types of computers to make today’s machines look like toys.

Utilizing the mysterious power of quantum mechanics, this technique performs tasks in minutes that even supercomputers could not complete in thousands of years. In the fall of 2019, Google announced an experimental quantum computer to show that this is possible. Two years later, Chinese laboratories did much the same.

But quantum computing does not reach that potential without the help of other technological advances. This is called the “quantum internet”. This is a computer network that can send quantum information between machines at remote locations.

At the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, a team of physicists has taken a major step towards this future computer network by sending data to three physical locations using a technique called quantum teleportation. rice field. Previously, this was possible with just two.

New experiments show that scientists can extend quantum networks to more and more sites. “We are currently building a small quantum network in our lab,” said Ronald Hanson, a Delft physicist who oversees the team. “But the idea is to finally build a quantum internet.”

Their work, published this week in a paper published in the scientific journal Nature, demonstrates the power of phenomena that Albert Einstein once considered impossible. Quantum teleportation (what he called “eerie behavior at remote locations”) can transfer information between locations without actually moving the physical substance that holds it. increase.

This technology can significantly change the way data travels from place to place. It is based on more than a century of research, including the field of quantum mechanics, the field of physics that dominates the realm of elementary particles and behaves differently than we experience in our daily lives. Quantum teleportation not only moves data between quantum computers, but also moves data in a way that no one can intercept it.

“This not only means that quantum computers can solve problems, but also that they don’t know what the problem is,” said the Institute of Experimental Physics, University of Insbrook, who is also studying quantum teleportation. Researcher Tracy Eleanor North Up said. “It doesn’t work that way today. Google knows what it’s doing on the server.”

Quantum computers are strange for some objects when they are very small (such as electrons or particles of light) or very cold (such as exotic metals cooled to near absolute zero or minus 460 degrees Fahrenheit). Use the operation. In such situations, one object can behave like two separate objects at the same time.

Traditional computers perform calculations by processing “bits” of information. Each bit holds either 1 or 0. You can save a bit of combinations of 1s and 0s by taking advantage of the strange behavior of quantum mechanics, quantum bits, or qubits. As if the spinning coin holds the intriguing potential that either the head or the tail will rise up when it finally falls flat on the table.

That is, two qubits can hold four values ​​at a time, three qubits can hold eight, and four can hold 16. As the number of qubits increases, quantum computers become exponentially powerful.

Researchers believe that one day these devices can speed up the creation of new drugs, boost the power of artificial intelligence, and easily break the encryption that protects computers that are essential to national security. increase. Around the world, governments, academic laboratories, start-ups, and tech giants are spending billions of dollars exploring technology.

In 2019, Google announced that the machine has reached what scientists call “quantum transcendence.” This means that you can perform experimental tasks that were not possible with traditional computers. However, most experts believe that at least a few years will pass before quantum computers can actually do useful things that other machines cannot.

Part of the challenge is that reading information from a qubit will either break or “deco-heal” the qubit. This is a normal bit that can hold only 0s or 1s, not both. But by stitching together many qubits and developing ways to prevent decoherence, scientists want to build powerful and practical machines.

Eventually, they will be combined into a network that can send information between nodes and will be available from anywhere so that cloud computing services such as Google and Amazon have wide access to today’s processing power.

However, this has its own problems. Due to decoherence, quantum information cannot simply be copied and transmitted over traditional networks. Quantum teleportation provides an alternative.

You can’t move an object from place to place, but you can use a quantum property called “entanglement” to move information. Changes in the state of one quantum system instantly affect the state of another distant quantum system.

“Once intertwined, we can no longer explain these conditions individually,” Northup said. “Basically, this is one system.”

These intertwined systems can be electrons, particles of light, or other objects. In the Netherlands, Hanson and his team used the so-called nitrogen vacancy center. This is a small empty space of synthetic diamond that can trap electrons.

The team built three of these quantum systems, Alice, Bob, and Charlie, and connected them in a row with the strands of fiber optics. Scientists can then entangle these systems by sending individual photons (particles of light) between them.

First, the researchers entwined two electrons. One belongs to Alice and the other belongs to Bob. In effect, the electrons are given the same spin, so they are coupled or entangled in a common quantum state, each storing the same information (a particular combination of 1s and 0s).

Researchers can then transfer this quantum state to another qubit, the carbon nucleus, in Bob’s synthetic diamond. Doing so freed Bob’s electron, allowing researchers to entangle it with another electron belonging to Charlie.

By performing specific quantum operations on both Bob’s qubits (electrons and carbon nuclei), researchers can glue the two entanglements together. Glue Alice and Bob to Bob and Charlie.

Result: Alice is now entwined with Charlie and can teleport data to all three nodes.

When data moves in this way, no data is lost without actually moving the distance between the nodes. “Information is sent to one side of the connection and displayed on the other side,” Hanson said.

Information cannot be intercepted either. Future quantum Internets with quantum teleportation have the potential to offer a new kind of encryption that is theoretically unbreakable.

In the new experiment, the network nodes weren’t too far apart – only about 60 feet. However, previous experiments have shown that quantum systems can be intertwined over long distances.

After a few more years of research, it is hoped that quantum teleportation will be feasible for miles. “We are currently trying to do this outside the lab,” Hanson said.

This article was originally New York Times..

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