The first quantum network built in the world

Scientists from Delft created the world’s first quantum network. Three quantum processors have never been connected to a network before. This achievement is a step forward towards a larger quantum internet.

Where computers calculate with bits that are 0 or 1, quantum computers use quantum bits (or qubits). They can also be a mixture of 1 and 0. In theory, these “quantum states” give quantum computers tremendous computing power.

You need the quantum internet to connect to the various quantum computers and allow the exchange of information. This allows you to increase the compact computing power of computers.


What also makes quantum internet interesting is the ability to transmit information completely securely. Another quantum property important to this: particle entanglement. You can connect quantum particles together. If you then measure those connected particles, you will find coherent values ​​ u200b u200bof both particles; If one is 0, the other is 1, and vice versa.

Quantum cases (in which the information for zeros and ones are filled in) cannot be simply copied. If you do, it will cause disturbances. When reading the two entangled qubits, these two values ​​no longer match. If the zeros and ones match, then you know the eavesdropping was not done. In this way, interlocking qubits are very suitable for transmitting encrypted sensitive information.

Incidentally, entanglement of qubits still has a very low chance of success for residents of Delft: it succeeds about ten times per second. The advantage is that in their setup they actually get a signal when the entanglement is working. This is an important characteristic if the quantum network becomes ready to operate on a larger scale in the future.

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In the world’s first quantum network, Thursday Posted on ScienceAll three quantum processors are intertwined. Scientists named the three dots Alice, Bob and Charlie for convenience. Bob forms physical contact with both Alice and Charlie.

Most importantly, the scientists concluded, Alice and Charlie could also intertwine, despite not having a physical relationship between them. They need a bob for that. Bob is equipped with a special memory cup. This person remembers the tangles between Alice and Bob, while Bob the tangle of Charlie.

This property is also necessary for the future, if this quantum network is to be scaled up. You want to be able to establish a connection between two physically offline processors. Compare it with the current internet: there is no huge cable that directly connects everyone around the world to a computer.

What Delft researchers have made and measured is now not yet on the scale of a quantum internet. Moreover, the three different processors consist of only one processor or, in the case of Bob, two qubits, and thus cannot be compared to a future quantum computer of volume, where we are talking about millions or billions of qubits. But this is the next step towards a larger quantum network.


“ It’s really an artistic tour of force and a step forward towards the quantum network that Delft QuTech hopes to achieve in Randstad, ” the physicist says. Carlo Pinaker From Leiden University. “There is a need to have this network in five years, and that will only work.”

Pinker does not want to comment on a term for the further spread of quantum internet. “It’s a technology under development, and you can’t schedule it.” In addition to science and technology, there are also many other factors that affect the practical application of a quantum network. “The question is not only whether you can do this, but also whether you want to.”

For banks, governments, and the military, the more secure method of communication offered by the quantum internet has already added value, says Pinaker. It is a very tangible application, as organizations like banks are already willing to pay money for it. Time will determine whether every home will soon be connected to the quantum internet.

“We can be proud of this,” says Bennaker. “It really is a milestone.” China spends billions on this, even having a satellite in space for a quantum internet. However, we in the Netherlands have a head start in this area.

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Megan Vasquez

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