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Technology review – Quantum Internet

From quantum computing, an emerging technology has been awaited to set our future on fire – the coming of Quantum Internet.

And experts believe, we are just a DECADE away from it.

While today’s Internet uses radio frequencies to connect various computer through a global web in which electronic signals are sent back and forth, the “new age” quantum internet’s signal would be sent through a quantum network using entangled quantum particles and following Einstein’s words, this phenomenon can be described as “spooky action at a distance.”

Researchers are making effort to develop this new level network.

In 2016, China had launched the world’s first quantum communication satellite (Micius) and they’ve since been busy testing and extending the limitations of sending entangled photons from space to ground stations on Earth and then back again.

Jian-Wei Pan of the University of Science and Technology of China is the one leading these efforts. He believes that a global quantum network could exist by the year 2030.

That’s 11 years to be exact, if all sails smooth.

On that same year, Bill Gates too has given a ten-year window for quantum cloud computing to develop.

In an interview session on Reddit, he said, “There is a chance that within 6-10 years that cloud computing will offer super-computation by using quantum.”

“It could help us solve some very important science problems including materials and catalyst design,” he adds.

Last December, the U.S. government enacted the National Quantum Initiative Act, in which, it will lavishly fund a number of research hubs dedicated to quantum technologies, including quantum computers and networks.

And this year, the Dutch operator KPN and the advanced research center for Quantum Computing and Quantum Internet QuTech, had collaborated to make Quantum Internet possible.

Tl; dr;

Quantum Internet could not be much of a typical internet surfing.

“In many cases, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to communicate quantum mechanically,” University of Washington physicist Kai-Mei Fu told WIRED.

Thus, regular internet communication is enough.

The quantum internet would excel, however, at sending “unhackable” information and could also speed up access to a working quantum computer by putting quantum computing in the cloud.

The Emergence of Quantum Internet

quantum internet structure

Quantum Internet’s three essential quantum hardware elements: the physical connection (quantum channel), quantum repeaters and the end nodes.

Source: The NETWORK pages

As much of the experts would say, a quantum internet would most likely become a specialized branch of the regular internet – one that we could only connect to for specific tasks.

The technology would excel at sending secure information, allowing people to send “unhackable” data over a quantum network, due to the fact that quantum cryptography uses a mechanic called quantum key distribution (QKD). Meaning, encrypted message and its keys are sent separately.

If tampering happens, such message could be automatically destroyed, with both parties (sender and receiver) notified of the situation.

Another benefit is that quantum internet could also speed up access to a working quantum computer by putting quantum computing in the cloud.

A Quantum Cloud can increase storage capacities of data centers and ensure optimum reliability with (100%) real-time data availability.

By quantum internet’s security and speed, entanglement makes it possible to communicate instantly across arbitrarily large distances in principle. No matter how far apart you put two entangled qubits, acting on one will have an instant and measurable impact on the other.

Key Features of Quantum Internet

The emerging quantum internet is based on quantum computing, a type of computing based on the major tenets of quantum theory:

  • Quantum Computing. Compared to classical computing, quantum computing is a more secure technology with various real world applications in numerous organizations (i.e. IBM Q Experience and MIT) and can share information at infinitely higher rates with vastly fewer limitations.
  • Qubits. The fundamental building block for quantum information processes, qubits can be compared to a binary character in traditional computing. With qubits, quantum internet enables computers to share quantum information between quantum computers. Qubits cannot be interpreted with standard hardware and it cannot be copied nor destroyed.
  • Superposition. Traditionally, computers can only ever be in a single state at one time. But with quantum internet, quantum system can occupy many states at once. Meaning, quantum information needs to be shared via two quantum processes, quantum superposition and quantum entanglement.
  • Entanglement. The information shared does not need to travel a physical distance between the particles, thus, creating opportunities for secure cryptography. Einstein referred to entanglement of qubits as “spooky action at a distance.”
  • Quantum infrastructure. Quantum computers must be kept at extremely low temperatures in order to hold information. In some cases, qubits are stored within superconducting wire that is held in a refrigerator at absolute zero.

Summary

Quantum internet in general won’t most likely cater to our day to day internet browsing.

But it is much more helpful in delivering much fast and secure information in various fields in between military, diplomatic, and academic sectors, keeping hackers at bay.

By Tuan Nguyen

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