Quantum entanglement will make the quantum internet “invulnerable” thanks to quantum control

Perspective: Quantum entanglement will virtually eliminate every security problem facing the modern Internet. This is the theory, at least. According to new research, there is a (theoretical) way to “manipulate” entangled photons to avoid information loss.

Professor Mehul Malik has been studying quantum technologies for 15 years. With my team in Heriot-Watt Institute for Photonics and Quantum SciencesMalik came up with a new way to transmit quantum information over optical fibers – a way that helps avoid data loss and brings the concept of quantum internet one step closer to reality.

The quantum internet is a theoretical next-generation network model based on strange phenomena that belong to the theory of quantum computing. The strangest phenomenon is known as quantum entanglement, since it describes two particles or groups of particles (for example, two photons of light) that remain connected regardless of distance. The quantum state of an entangled particle cannot be described independently of the state of another particle, independently of the speed of light.

Quantum technology attempts to use the quantum properties of subatomic particles to develop incredibly powerful computers or to vastly improve the security of network communications and navigation systems. However, the problem with quantum entanglement is that the “transmission” of entangled photons through optical fibers becomes difficult over long distances due to noise and information loss.

“Even the best optical fibers in the world will have a certain amount of loss per kilometer,” Malik said, “so it’s a big hurdle to making this form of quantum communication possible.” However, the new research he and his team have done shows for the first time that “quantum entanglement can withstand both noise and loss — and still persist in a strong form known as quantum control.”

Quantum control is a technique that can increase the robustness of entanglement by using “quditswhich are essentially arrays of qubits (the bit equivalent in quantum computing) arranged in multiple dimensions. The researchers used the spatial structure of light to entangle photons in a 53-dimensional space made up of “pixels” of light.

The result: Quantum control allowed them to transmit entangled photons in loss and noise equivalent to 79 km of fiber optic cables, even with 36% white noise, similar to that which can come from sunlight leaking into the experiment. Another paradoxical conclusion of the new study, according to Malik, is that increasing the number of measurements in quantum entanglement also drastically reduces the time needed to measure the results.

“The efficient and reliable flow of information today is at the heart of modern society,” explained the professor; to build such a “quantum” Internet, “we need to be able to send quantum entanglement over real distances,” allowing for noise and transmission loss.

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