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Researchers from QuTech have achieved a world's first in quantum internet technology. A team led by Professor Stephanie Wehner has developed a so-called link layer protocol that brings the phenomenon of quantum entanglement from experimental physics to a real-world quantum network. This brings closer the day when quantum internet can become a reality, delivering applications that are impossible to achieve via classical internet. The work was presented today at ACM SIGCOMM.

In classical computing, a collection of software layers referred to as the network stack allows computers to communicate with each other. Underlying the network stack are communications protocols, such as the or HTTP. Stephanie Wehner explained that one essential protocol used by a network is the link layer protocol, which overcomes the problems caused by imperfect hardware: "All of us use classical link layer protocols in everyday life. One example is Wi-Fi, which allows an unreliable radio signal—suffering from interruptions and interference—to be used to transmit data reliably between compatible devices."

A quantum network, based on transmission of quantum bits, or qubits, requires the same level of reliability. Stephanie Wehner says, "In our work, we have proposed a quantum network stack, and have constructed the world's first link-layer protocol for a quantum network."

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Category: Science