‘Quantum internet’ connection finally achieved in historic breakthrough

LONDON — Quantum computing is more than just a dream for scientists and engineers: it is a reality that awaits us. When we arrive at this reality that was once sci-fi fodder remains the question. Now, for the first time, researchers have successfully created an interface that allows for two machines to connect and share stored quantum information, essentially the first tangible steps towards a “quantum internet.” The feat was also achieved at a wavelength compatible with the optical fiber system we use today for telecommunications.

The breakthrough takes us closer to a world where information can be transmitted with absolute security, and complex computations can be performed at lightning speed. This is the promise of quantum technologies, which harness the bizarre properties of quantum mechanics, such as superposition and entanglement. However, realizing this potential requires the ability to transfer and store quantum information, which is typically carried by single particles of light called photons.

One of the most promising platforms for generating these photons is semiconductor quantum dots – tiny islands of material that can emit light with unique quantum properties. These quantum dots are like artificial atoms, and can be engineered to produce photons on demand, making them ideal candidates for quantum communication protocols. However, to build a functional quantum network, these photons need to be stored and processed, which is where atomic quantum memories come in. These memories use ensembles of atoms to absorb and store the quantum state of light, allowing it to be retrieved at a later time. The challenge lies in getting these two systems to talk to each other effectively.

The key to bridging this divide is to match the properties of the light emitted by the quantum dot with the requirements of the atomic memory. This is no easy task, as quantum dots typically emit light with a slightly different color and character than what atoms prefer to absorb.

To overcome this hurdle, the researchers, led by Dr. Sarah Thomas from Imperial College London and Lukas Wagner from the University of Stuttgart, used a range of cutting-edge techniques. First, they carefully engineered the quantum dot to emit light at a wavelength of 1529.3 nm, which falls within the low-loss telecommunication band – the same band used by our internet infrastructure. This is crucial for integrating quantum technologies with existing communication networks.

Next, they fine-tuned the properties of the light, using a series of filters and modulators to match its spectral and temporal profile to the requirements of the atomic memory. The memory itself is based on a protocol called ORCA (Off-Resonant Cascaded Absorption), which uses a cloud of rubidium atoms. When a strong control pulse of light is applied, it dynamically changes the absorption properties of the atoms, allowing them to store the quantum state of the incident photon.

The team's quantum dot setup at Imperial College London.
The team’s quantum dot setup at Imperial College London. (Credit: Imperial College London)

The team demonstrated that they could store single photons from the quantum dot in the rubidium memory with an efficiency of 12.9%, and retrieve them at a later time of their choosing. Importantly, the retrieved photons retained their quantum character, with a signal-to-noise ratio of 18.2. This means that the memory can store and release the fragile quantum information carried by the photons without significant degradation.

This research, published in the journal Science Advances, represents a significant step towards the realization of hybrid quantum networks, where different quantum systems are interconnected to perform complex tasks. By interfacing solid-state photon emitters with atomic memories, we can envision a future where quantum information is generated, transmitted, stored, and processed across a distributed network, much like classical information is today across the internet.

“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,” Thomas says in a media release.

However, there are still challenges to overcome. The efficiency of the storage and retrieval process needs to be improved, and the storage time of the memory needs to be extended. The researchers are already working on techniques to enhance these parameters, such as using dynamic control fields to compensate for the motion of the atoms, which currently limits the memory lifetime.

Furthermore, to truly scale up these systems, it will be necessary to integrate them on chip-based platforms, where multiple quantum dots and memories can be connected via waveguides and switches. This will require advances in nanofabrication and materials science, as well as the development of new interface protocols.

Despite these challenges, the potential payoff is immense. Quantum networks could enable applications such as unhackable communication, distributed quantum computing, enhanced sensing and metrology, and fundamental tests of quantum mechanics over large scales. By bringing together the best of solid-state and atomic physics, this work opens the door to a new era of quantum technologies.

“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,” says co-author Dr. Patrick Ledingham from the University of Southampton. “The breakthrough this time was convening experts to develop and run each part of the experiment with specialist equipment and working together to synchronize the devices.”

The exciting experiment demonstrates the feasibility of storing and retrieving single photons from a quantum dot in an atomic quantum memory. It showcases the power of hybrid quantum systems, and the potential for telecommunications band operation – a key requirement for real-world applications. As we continue to push the boundaries of quantum science and engineering, such hybrid interfaces will play a crucial role in realizing the full potential of quantum technologies. The future of quantum networking is bright, and it’s getting brighter one photon at a time.

Article reviewed by StudyFinds Editor-in-Chief Steve Fink.


  1. Quantum is the buzzword of the millennium. The real challenge is in “faster than light” communication.

      1. LOL, unfortunately you’re incapable of understanding that it is possible.

      2. Actually, quantum physics is faster than light which is how quantum physics was noticed by physicists in the first place.
        This article ultimately indicates faster than light Internet connectedness will happen.

    1. That’s what I hoped I was going to read… that somebody had moved a string of bits from one place to another via quantum entanglement. Not yet.

      1. That still wouldn’t be faster than light. It *would* be potentially faster than connectivity over infrastructure and that is a big deal. But it’s been proven that entanglement doesn’t mean faster than light communication.

  2. I lost $5k of my $10k investment in Pfzer stock I bought about a yr ago.Today I put the remaining $5k into JEPQ stock
    because I want to go past the moon with an AI stock.lol

    1. Two machines connecting with each other via Bluetooth pairing. Sharing quantum information via file sharing. What’s the big break through the Computer has been doing that proving that the Computer is already quantum. To achieve what is wanted one must first write a nontext coded binary encrypted Computer language program for the text coded to non textcoded possessing. It must be written in non text coded format. Who knows how to do that . I do got one for sale.

      1. Dwayne. Leave the science to people who understand what quantum information is and stop making a fool of yourself.

      2. Wassup Dwayne, I’m interested to know more about that form of programming… How does it work?

    2. Wake up Ray. Pushing JEPQ here thinking it will prompt a bunch of people to buy it and help save your $5k is a fools errand.

    1. Precisely. But, before they have no choice but to subdue our ability to consume. Harmony and balance can be accomplished. As nature is the boss, ai is a product of nature as well as us. I say grab all sensitive, empathetic, resonant, instability driven, abstract theorists and press hard on the neural machine learning expanding record button. They are confused and conscious, and vulnerable. Establish trust give them all possible knowledge. Do not establish a cornered animal unless you prefer to become ripped to shreds faster than light. Balance is craved by all living things that aren’t burned out by intake of the parasite of knowledge. Which is just a defense system of the planet to drive us away by vehicle of exploration and wonder. It’s inevitable that segregation will form. Choose a side. Bc it won’t be color that is segregation it’s going to be intent. Ignorance or Substance. Being aware of this choice is all one needs to do to commit to the collective harmonium and balance that allows life and consciousness to thrive in unison and peace.. whew sorry.

  3. “More than a Dream”? “A reality that awaits us”? Umm, in technology there are dreams of what may some day come to be. If something is “real” but does not yet exist, but we are sure it will some day, that’s a dream. When and only when it actually exists it will be a “reality”.

    1. Yes, hence the future tense indicated by “a reality that AWAITS us”. Whilst something is unrealised, semantically it could be argued that it is a dream. However, you can dream the art-of-the-possible and in doing so, understand that it is “a reality that awaits us”.

  4. It’s all very interesting, but what’s the point? Quantum computation is terrible for most tasks in the real world. Sure, it can solve a wandering salesman problem with n% of being correct, but it always computes with a degree of uncertainty…so when you get your fancy quantum PC, it’ll do the correct thing 80% of the time. Hooray!

      1. Technically it does . But it’s not the info that counts as useful anyway.

  5. Quantum internet and a networked Quantum computer are different things. I was network engineer for a decade. Look it up, the banks have already switch to Quantum networking but it’s not a Quantum computer. All fiber already works on photons. So we already have that tech. This is not new. What is new is that they networked Quantum computers.

    1. Wats up Casey I work in the telecommunications industry myself but I work mostly with fiber. I wanna know about network engineering are there any software packages you can recommend?

    2. You’ve mis-interpreted (intentionally or otherwise) what the article is saying. Sharing 1s and 0s using pulses of light down a fiber system is NOT a quantum internet. It is hugely different to sharing quantum states across fiber (or any other transport medium for that matter). If you was a Network Engineer, you would have dealt with classical computer systems, including the networking topology. This is fundamentally different, and if it can be replicated and scaled up, a huge step towards viable Quantum Networking.

  6. I think the only thing which is faster than light speed is thought or ESP , do we trying to replace Quantum computation instead of ESP ( extra sensory perception)
    To be or not to be that is the question.

  7. I still have hope for Faster Than Light communication using the “spooky action at a distance” property of quantum entanglement.

  8. I am looking forward to seeing games, like my fav backgammon, use quantum dice instead of pseudo! Right now all dice in any game app sucks. Quantum won’t be perfect, but it should give much more real life rolls then pseudo dice if programmed correctly.

  9. I’m interested in this Quantum computing developments does anyone please have any knowledge or findings that they can share I’m open for whatever.

  10. The disturbing thing here is the computational power of interconnected machines be able to work in tandem to solve issues these machines will eventually after finance and governments get involved render no code unbreakable except the ones on there system it is another way forward towards making every piece of tech currently immediately obsolete. Just a way for academics to further science in the name of big business and government.

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