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With classic electronics and computing reaching its physical limits, much excitement surrounds quantum technologies as the fuel for future progress.




“If this is true,” said AT&T Communications’ new CEO John Donovan, “which it is, it will entirely change the way our network computing is done, and it isn’t processing but quantum networking that changes the game for us.”


It was November 2017 and Donovan was speaking to an awed conference audience about the future potential of quantum communication and networking. His company had provided seed funding for INQNET (INtelligent Quantum NEtworks and Technologies) – a research programme launched by the California Institute of Technology as part of the Alliance for Quantum Technologies (AQT) programme it had set up earlier that year with AT&T.


One of the purposes of the part-publicly funded Big Science initiative is to bring together academia, national labs and industry to accelerate the development of quantum communications and networks in anticipation of quantum computing.


A quantum network will distribute information encoded into quantum states and systems. This information is held at the sub-atomic level in a physical property of something – a photon or electron – and transmitted. Whatever the entity might be, it is its quantum-mechanical properties that are being used rather than the classical properties, as happens now.


“The quantum network has been theoretically shown – it is not a belief but the task of making something that exists on paper a reality,” says Neil Sinclair, an INQNET postdoctoral fellow in physics at CalTech. “Quantum particles hold information, and if we can distribute them then we can potentially overcome problems that have never been solved before.”

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Category: Science