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For the first time ever, scientists create, store, and retrieve quantum data

The results demonstrate that mechanical memory for quantum data could be the strategy that paves the way for an ultra-secure internet with incredible speeds.
Researchers have achieved a significant milestone in quantum networking by successfully producing, storing, and retrieving quantum information for the first time. (CREDIT: Julian Robinson-Tait)

In a groundbreaking development, researchers have achieved a significant milestone in quantum networking by successfully producing, storing, and retrieving quantum information for the first time.

This achievement marks a critical step forward in the quest to establish robust quantum networks, essential for advancing distributed computing and secure communication systems.


The implications of this advancement are vast, with potential applications ranging from optimizing financial risk to decrypting data and exploring the fundamental properties of materials and molecules.

"Interfacing two key devices together is a crucial step forward in allowing quantum networking, and we are really excited to be the first team to have been able to demonstrate this," said Dr. Sarah Thomas, co-first author of the study and a researcher from the Department of Physics at Imperial College London.


The challenge in quantum networking lies in the delicate nature of quantum information, which can easily degrade or be lost when transmitted over long distances.

To overcome this hurdle, researchers propose dividing the quantum network into smaller segments interconnected by a shared quantum state.


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This approach requires the development of a quantum memory device capable of storing and retrieving quantum information, along with a device for generating quantum information.

For the first time, researchers have achieved this feat by successfully interfacing these two key components and utilizing standard optical fibers for quantum data transmission.


The collaborative effort involved researchers from Imperial College London, the University of Southampton, and the Universities of Stuttgart and Wurzburg in Germany. Their findings were published in Science Advances, showcasing a significant leap forward in quantum networking research.

Co-first author Lukas Wagner, from the University of Stuttgart, emphasized the importance of connecting distant locations and quantum computers, underscoring the critical role of future quantum networks.

In traditional telecommunications systems like the internet or phone lines, information loss over long distances is mitigated by employing repeaters that read and re-amplify the signal at regular intervals.


However, classical repeaters are ineffective for quantum information transmission, as any attempt to read and replicate the information would destroy it. While this characteristic provides inherent security advantages by preventing unauthorized access, it poses a significant challenge for long-distance quantum networking.

To address this challenge, researchers utilize entangled photons—particles of light that share properties in a way that their states are interdependent. Sharing entanglement across a quantum network requires devices for creating entangled photons and storing them for later retrieval.

Until now, creating a compatible interface between devices for generating entangled photons and quantum memory systems has been elusive due to differences in operational wavelengths. The breakthrough achieved by the research team involved developing a system where both devices operate at the same wavelength, enabling seamless interaction.


The quantum dot light source, developed by researchers at the University of Stuttgart with support from the University of Wurzburg, was integrated with the quantum memory device created by the Imperial and Southampton team. This collaboration facilitated the successful assembly of the system in a laboratory at Imperial College London.

Dr. Patrick Ledingham, co-author of the study from the University of Southampton, highlighted the significance of collaborative efforts in overcoming the technical challenges. He emphasized the importance of expert collaboration in developing and synchronizing each component of the experiment.

While previous efforts have resulted in the creation of independent quantum dots and quantum memories, the current study represents the first successful demonstration of device interfacing at telecommunications wavelengths. This achievement serves as a crucial proof of concept for future advancements in quantum networking.


Looking ahead, the research team aims to enhance the system by improving wavelength uniformity, extending photon storage duration, and miniaturizing the overall setup. Despite these challenges, the successful demonstration of device interfacing represents a significant step forward in the pursuit of practical quantum networking solutions.

Storage and retrieval of QD photons in ORCA memory.
Storage and retrieval of QD photons in ORCA memory. Arrival time histograms of QD photons through the ORCA memory for the input (blue), memory (red), and noise (gray) settings. The dashed lines are Gaussian fits to the data. (CREDIT: Science Advances)

Dr. Patrick Ledingham further commented, "Members of the quantum community have been actively attempting this link for some time. This includes us, having tried this experiment twice before with different memory and quantum dot devices, going back more than five years, which just shows how hard it is to do."


The successful interfacing of key quantum devices and the transmission of quantum information over standard optical fibers mark a pivotal advancement in quantum networking research. This achievement opens new avenues for developing secure communication networks and harnessing the power of quantum computing to address complex real-world challenges.

For more science news stories check out our New Innovations section at The Brighter Side of News.


Note: Materials provided above by The Brighter Side of News. Content may be edited for style and length.


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