Step towards building the quantum Internet

Posted Sep 15, 2017 by Tim Sandle
Scientists have made a step forward in developing the building blocks of a quantum Internet. This is with significantly improving the storage time of a telecom-compatible quantum memory.
A packed Chinese Internet cafe
A packed Chinese Internet cafe
The Center for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (in Australia) have set out the first practical building blocks for a global quantum internet. This is with studying the storage time of a telecom-compatible quantum memory. This technology operates in the same 1550 nanometer band as the current telecommunications infrastructure; however, it can also be operated as a quantum light source and used as an optical link for solid-state quantum computing devices. This includes superconducting qubits and silicon qubits, making the technology ideal for when the first real wave of quantum computers becomes available (which is estimated to be in 2025).
As to what the quantum Internet will be at this stage it is a little uncertain. According to Thomas Jennewein of the University of Waterloo, who spoke with Wired: "‘Quantum internet’ is a vague term. People, including myself, like to use it. However, there’s no real definition of what it means.” This is simply because so much of the technology that will create the quantum realm is still in its infancy.
One probable application with the quantum Internet is for sending information securely. This would entail as quantum encryption or quantum cryptography, to allow the transfer of “unhackable” data over a quantum network. This would leave other types of data vulnerable. In a related article, Digital Journal has considered the security risks that quantum computers potentially pose to existing Internet security protocols and privacy measures.
The new research into constructing the quantum Internet has come from Professor Matthew Sellars. The researcher has demonstrated how an erbium (a rare earth ion) crystal is uniquely suited to enable a global telecommunications network that harnesses the weird properties of quantum mechanics. The crystal is the perfect material to form the building blocks of a quantum. Importantly the research has shown that erbium ions in a crystal are capable of storing quantum information for more than a second, which is 10,000 times longer than any other known material.
The research has been published in the journal Nature Physics, with the research paper titled "Coherence time of over a second in a telecom-compatible quantum memory storage material."