December 16, 2020 – A viable quantum internet – a network in which information stored in qubits is shared over long distances by tangle – would transform the fields of data storage, precision detection and computing, ushering in a new era of communication.
This month, scientists at Fermilab, a national laboratory of the US Department of Energy, and their partners took a significant step toward creating a quantum Internet.
In a paper published in PRX Quantum, the team presents for the first time a demonstration of a sustained, long-distance teleportation (44 kilometers of fiber) of photon cubits (light edges) with a fidelity greater than 90%. The Qubits were teleported over a fiber optic network using state-of-the-art unique photon detectors and shelf-type equipment.
“We are delighted with these results,” said Fermilab scientist Panagiotis Spentzouris, head of the Fermilab quantum science program and one of the co-authors of the paper. “This is a key achievement in building a technology that redefines the way we conduct global communication.”
Quantum teleportation is an “unincorporated” transfer of quantum states from one location to another. Quantum teleportation of a qubit is performed using quantum entanglement, in which two or more particles are inextricably linked together. If a pair of tangled particles is split between two separate locations, regardless of the distance between them, the encoded information is teleported.
The joint team – researchers at Fermilab, AT&T, Caltech, Harvard University, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Calgary – have successfully teleported qubits to two systems: Caltech Quantum Network or CQNET and Fermilab Quantum Network or FQNET. The systems were designed, built, commissioned and implemented by Caltech’s public-private research program on intelligent quantum networks and technologies or IN-Q-NET.
“We are very proud to have achieved this step in sustainable, high-performance and scalable quantum teleportation systems,” said Maria Spiropulu, Shang-Yi Ch’en physics professor at Caltech and director of the IN-Q-NET research program. “The results will be further improved with the system updates we expect to complete by the second quarter of 2021.”
CQNET and FQNET, which have almost autonomous data processing, are compatible with both existing telecommunications infrastructure and emerging quantum processing and storage devices. Researchers use them to improve the fidelity and rate of confusion, with a focus on complex quantum communication protocols and basic science.
The realization comes just months after the US Department of Energy unveiled its plan for a national quantum internet at a press conference in Chicago.
“With this demonstration, we are beginning to lay the groundwork for building a metropolitan quantum network in Chicago,” Spentzouris said. The Chicagoland network, called the Illinois Express Quantum Network, is designed by Fermilab in collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory, Caltech, Northwestern University and industry partners.
This research was supported by the DOE Office of Science through the QuantisED Science-Enabled Discovery (QuantISED) program.
“This is proof of the success of collaboration between disciplines and institutions, which drives so much of what we do in science,” said Joe Lykken, deputy director of research at Fermilab. “I congratulate the IN-Q-NET team and our partners in academia and industry for this first such achievement in quantum teleportation.”
Learn more about the result.
Fermilab is one of America’s leading national laboratories for particle physics and accelerator research. A US Department of Energy laboratory, Fermilab, is located near Chicago, Illinois and is operated under contract by Fermi Research Alliance LLC, a joint partnership between the University of Chicago and the Universities Research Association, Inc. Go to the Fermilab website at www. .fnal.gov.
The Office of Science is the largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit science.energy.gov.