Scientists build first working quantum network – mind-bogglingly powerful

Scientists at the Quantum Dynamics division of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) in Garching, Germany announced Wednesday that they have built the very first, elementary quantum network comprised of a pair of entangled atoms that transmit information to each other via single photons.

That and a couple of bucks will get you a cup of coffee, plus anything from a perfectly secure data exchange system to the massive scaling via distributed processing of the already mind-bogglingly powerful, if theoretical, potential of a standalone quantum computer.

These are indeed heady days for the pioneers of quantum computing, with each news cycle seemingly bringing forth a major breakthrough in a subatomic frontier that appears poised to revolutionize how our calculating machines deliver us everything from satellite mapping to LOLcats.

 

Building it was the hardest part:

…had to figure out a means of exercising “perfect control” over all the components in their quantum network, which first meant getting the two atoms that make up the network’s receptor nodes to somehow stay stationary, because a couple of free-floating atoms wouldn’t be able to communicate with the photons relaying information between the two very efficiently.

The team was able to fix their atoms in optical cavities, basically a couple of highly reflective mirrors a short distance from each other, by means of fine-tuned laser beams.

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