Scientists Build First Working Quantum Network

Posted April 13, 2012 by Johnny2x in Science’s Damon Poeter reports:

Scientists at the Quantum Dynamics division of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) in Garching, Germany announced Wednesday that they have built the very first, elementary quantum network comprised of a pair of entangled atoms that transmit information to each other via single photons.

That and a couple of bucks will get you a cup of coffee, plus anything from a perfectly secure data exchange system to the massive scaling via distributed processing of the already mind-bogglingly powerful, if theoretical, potential of a standalone quantum computer.

These are indeed heady days for the pioneers of quantum computing, with each news cycle seemingly bringing forth a major breakthrough in a subatomic frontier that appears poised to revolutionize how our calculating machines deliver us everything from satellite mapping to LOLcats.

It’s also a daunting time for those of us who have barely just sussed out the mechanics of old-fashioned, silicon-based computer chips–only to be confronted with this new science of computing, a full understanding of which requires one to be not just an advanced electrical engineer, but a quantum physicist to boot.

All of which is to say that, yes, the bright individuals who are trying to harness the computational power of stuff so small and weird, it can only be described mathematically, are at it again.

more over at

Weird and Weirder Science
Quantum networking is the practical application of experimental quantum cryptography, like the “blind quantum computing” demonstration by another team of researchers at the University of Vienna’s Center for Quantum Science and Technology earlier this year, which involved transmitting an algorithm to acomputer, running it, and receiving it back without the computer’s operator being able to snoop on those operations.

Like its cousin, quantum computing, quantum networking takes advantage of the fact that subatomic particles of matter can exist in multiple states–such as “on” and “off” to reference the binary process by which digital computing operates–at the same time.

Again, this is exceedingly difficult stuff to wrap one’s head around, but suffice to say that these properties enable the quantum bits, or qubits, that power quantum computers and the single-photon data packets developed for the MPQ team’s quantum network to perform their duties much more powerfully and securely than the non-quantum parts used in currently available PC chips and network infrastructure devices.

Of course, all of this is still very much in the realm of conjecture. Quantum computing is still highly theoretical, with demonstrations like the MPQ team’s limited to laboratory settings. There are no practical quantum computers,just experimental ones.

For one thing, scientists have yet to actually scale out their quantum computers and quantum networks to the point that they can actually out-perform their digital counterparts. For another, the cost of doing so appears to be, for the time being anyway, prohibitive.

But clearly, a boffin poking around in the subatomic, algorithmic ether can dare to dream.

For more from Damon, follow him on Twitter @dpoeter.

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John created the just because he cares about each and everyone of you. He likes science, technology, movies, and music. He also likes long walks in the park but only at night and in most dangerous park he can find AND he discovered the internet while playing in his back yard as a child. Some of this is true and some of it is not.


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