Fixing quantum data streams could lead to a secure global network

  • In new research, a device is helping to correct data that’s been lost at the quantum level.
  • The relay system catches misdirected photons and pushes them back into the stream.
  • As data moves faster, the process amplifies the small amount of lost photons.

    One of the biggest questions of our modern times is how best to transmit enormous amounts of data over ever larger spaces. Now, quantum theorists are proposing that “teleportation” – something once dreamed of star trek and Willy Wonka – could be the quantum secret to truly lossless data transmission.

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    In new research, scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and quantum working groups at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, suggest that the transmission of quantum data could blow our minds. your researchin which experiments are carried out with the capture and recovery of scattered photons during data transmission nature communication.

    We set the scene by imagining a few different data scenarios. Think of the simple telegraph device, where a wire carries a signal that is transmitted one zap or pause at a time. These zaps travel all the way back and forth as electrons are exchanged at the molecular level. At its most basic level, that is what electricity is.

    Now imagine a computer network in which files are passed back and forth to and from a server or between different workstations. The passage of these files appears to be lightning fast, but in reality different pieces are passed back and forth one at a time. The algorithms that manage it even have “collision detection” to ensure less data is lost when parts in the cables collide.

    Both scenarios involve the sharing of data. They seem very different in complexity, but both also represent a simple paradigm: continuous flow. In these situations, data flows like water from a jug in one direction or another. Sometimes it alternates, but the flow is still continuous through the pipes.

    Here’s the other thing about continuous or linear information flow: There are losses. Also in computer networks, data packets to do sometimes collide or fall and get lost. And in a massive fiber optic local area network, for example, the light bounces around within the fiber – with some inevitable losses due to the nature of the light itself. B. by scattering and diffraction, is unavoidable in the transmission of information over long distances.” write the researchers.

    Even in cutting-edge data transmission, such as in massive strands of fiber optics that connect entire cities or countries, ricocheting light particles drive all technology. These technologies emit photons, so finding ways to reduce losses is a huge industry in itself. The more data we send, the more the tiny losses add up to real amounts of lost data.

    To study the loss, the scientists first set up an experiment in which an unimportant photon was thrown into a position where it would be intentionally lost in the noise. To control the loss, they first applied a device called a noise-free linear amplifier. When it works, this device appears to “capture” the errant photon, bring it back to the quantum state, and zoom it back into the healthy part of the data.

    “A working long-distance quantum communication channel needs a mechanism to reduce this information loss, and that’s exactly what we did in our experiment,” says researcher Sergei Slussarenko says in a statement. “Our work implements what is known as a quantum relay, an important part of this long-distance communications network.”

    Next, the researchers want to test this method for long-range quantum cryptography. After that, they can dream of a truly secure global quantum network.

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