comment on this article

Quantum communication a step closer?

Quantum networks will allow sending information without being afraid of somebody listening in. Photo credit: Riley Brandt

Researchers at the University of Calgary in Canada are working on a way to make quantum networks a reality and have published their findings in the journal Nature.

According to Dr Wolfgang Tittel, pictured, who is leading the team, information coded in light has been successfully stored and retrieved from a crystal using a quantum physics phenomenon called entanglement.

"We have demonstrated, for the first time, that a crystal can store information encoded into, what's called in quantum mechanics, entangled quantum states of photons," said Dr Tittel of the university's Institute for Quantum Information Science. "This discovery constitutes an important milestone and will hopefully enable us to build quantum networks in a few years."

In current communication networks, information is sent through pulses of light moving through optical fibre and can be stored on computer hard disks for future use. "What we have is similar to this, but it does not use pulses of light," stated Dr Tittel. "In quantum communication we also have to store and retrieve information, but in our case, the information is encoded into entangled states of photons."

To achieve this task, the researchers, in collaboration with the University of Paderborn, used a crystal doped with rare earth ions and cooled it to -270°C. At this temperature, the materials properties changed and allowed the scientists to store and retrieve the photons without measurable degradation.

"The resulting robustness and the possibility to integrate the memory with current technology, such as fibre optic cables, is important when moving the currently fundamental research towards applications," said Tittel, who claims the networks will allow people to send information without being afraid of somebody listening in. "The results show that entanglement is not as fragile as is generally believed."

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) was recently able to enable quantum entanglement for a quantum state stored in four spatially distinct atomic memories. Researchers also demonstrated a quantum interface between the atomic memories - representing something akin to a computer hard drive for entanglement - and four beams of light, thereby enabling the four fold entanglement to be distributed by photons across quantum networks.

The research marked an important achievement in quantum information science by extending the coherent control of entanglement from two to multiple spatially separated physical systems of matter and light.

Laura Hopperton

Comment on this article

This material is protected by MA Business copyright See Terms and Conditions. One-off usage is permitted but bulk copying is not. For multiple copies contact the sales team.

What you think about this article:

Add your comments


Your comments/feedback may be edited prior to publishing. Not all entries will be published.
Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Related Articles

A 'singular' vision

Earlier this month Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference saw the unveiling of new ...

NI Trend Watch 2014

This report from National Instruments summarises the latest trends in the ...

Capactive sensing

This whitepaper looks at a number of capacitive sensing applications to ...

Digital consciousness

​Would you consider uploading your brain to the cloud if it meant you could ...

The changing face

A year of seismic social and political change 1968 saw anti-Vietnam war ...

The project begins

Recently, Stephen Doran took up his position as CEO of the Compound ...