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Scientists have created a device that can release a single, precisely shaped photon of light, opening the way to a secure “quantum internet” that is incredibly powerful and impenetrable to hackers.

The vision is of a future network of quantum computers that can work together to solve problems beyond the capabilities of current machines.

The key to developing a quantum internet is the ability to encode information on single photons of light that can be produced on demand. Now Prof Andrea Fiore of Eindhoven University of Technology and colleagues have developed a nanoscale device that can do this by “sculpting” the shape of individual photons.

“This is a very important step to be able to produce single photons exactly when you want them,” said Prof Chris Phillips from Imperial College, London, who wasn’t involved in the research.

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