We’ve all used the Internet and experienced its benefits first hand. But on 29 September 2017, Chinese scientists created history when they teleported information into space and back again using the Micius satellite, as it swings through space 500 kilometres above for a few minutes, every night.
This was accomplished by using the principles of Quantum Entanglement, that enabled it to make the first intercontinental phone call – a video call, in fact, between Beijing and Vienna – that was completely unhackable.
This momentous event is laying the foundation for the Quantum Internet. The is probably a leap in security, computing and science as networks harness teleportation and entanglement.
So, what’s Quantum Entanglement?
Entanglement means that two particles are irrevocably linked. One particle’s properties will be common to the other. To explain in layman’s terms, consider flipping two coins. The result of one coin will always will be the same, while the result will vary. In quantum entanglement, even if the particles are nowhere near one another, this effect always occurs.
CREDIT: XINHUA / JIN LIWANG / MCG
How’s this going to affect communications?
The consequences of this radical change will affect far beyond the tech sector. The foundation of data encryption involves the use of huge prime numbers and their factors. Real time calculation of the factors of even the largest prime numbers can be calculated using Quantum computers.
Once several quantum computers are connected into a quantum internet, this kind of use could usher in a new way of communications.
The need for speed is the prime motivation for companies to develop innovative solutions in the tech sector. Combined with increased storage, the ability to go faster – whether you’re performing calculations or communicating between devices – Quantum internet will change the world.
For all practical purposes this technology is still in its infancy, but the ground work is already being laid now. Proponents of such a quantum internet prophesize that it could open up a whole universe of applications that are not possible with classical communications, including connecting quantum computers together; building high tech and ultra-sharp telescopes using widely separated observatories or even launching new ways of detecting gravitational waves.
Some even see it as one day displacing the Internet in its current form.
A team at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, has already started to build the first genuine quantum network, which will link four cities in the Netherlands. In 2020, the project is expected to be finished. This could be the quantum version of ARPANET, a communications network developed by the US military in the late 1960s that paved the way for today’s Internet.
Stephanie Wehner, who is involved in the effort, is also coordinating a larger European project, called the Quantum Internet Alliance, which aims to expand the Dutch experiment to a continental scale. She and her team are trying to bring together computer scientists, engineers and network-security experts to help design the future quantum internet.
While many technical details still need to be sorted out, including, political, social and economics, its too early to say exactly how much a quantum internet might deliver.
– Shantha Kumari,
Sr. Technical Writer,