'Data superhighway' under construction for future internet

Australian National University

Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

'Data superhighway' under construction for future internet

The Australian National University (ANU) is leading an international team of researchers in the construction of a safe data superhighway for the highly anticipated quantum internet, which promises a new era of artificial intelligence and ultrasecure communication.

According to research leader Associate Professor Andrey Sukhorukov, from the Nonlinear Physics Centre within the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering, the data being shared on this future internet would be stored in light particles, which can store vast amounts of information.

“The light particles move really fast so, for quality-control purposes, we’ve developed a way to monitor and measure them along quantum circuits, which are like superhighways for the light particles to travel along,” he said.

Kai Wang, a PhD scholar at the Nonlinear Physics Centre, noted that measuring light particles can interfere with the operation of the quantum circuit, so the team needed to find a solution to this challenge. The team went on to design an innovative system of detectors along the quantum circuits to monitor light particles without losing the information that they are storing, by preserving the quantum state being transmitted.

“We guided light particles to two parallel paths, like two lanes on a highway: one lane has a faster speed limit than the other one, and light particles can freely change their lanes,” Wang said.

“Along both lanes there are several detectors to simultaneously check exactly how many light particles were passing these detectors at the same time.”

Through repeated detections, the team gained a comprehensive picture of these light particles as they entered and then subsequently left the detection zones. Collaborating researchers at the University of Rostock in Germany also tested the feasibility of this new approach in experiments with custom-designed fabricated optical circuits.

“We lost just a tiny fraction of the light particles through this process, without affecting the quantum state of the transmitted light particles,” Wang said.

“Our detection system can be built into a large, integrated network of quantum circuits, to help monitor light particles in real time.”

The research has been published in the journal Optica.

Image caption: Artist’s impression of the research team’s system of detectors along quantum circuits to monitor light particles. Image credit: Kai Wang, ANU.

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