Scientists at the Max Planck Institute have begun to harness quantum communication, or what Einstein called ‘spooky action at a distance’. Physicists have set up the first elementary quantum network by successfully passing ‘two coupled single-atom nodes that communicate quantum information via the coherent exchange of single photons.’ Professor Gerhard Rempe, who directs the Institute’s division of Quantum Optics said, “This approach to quantum networking is particularly promising because it provides a clear perspective for scalability.
What’s the Big Idea?
Communication of traditional information, whether via telephone wire or over the Internet, requires passing data at the speed of light between two nodes, or endpoints. But quantum communication is more challenging in that stationary nodes must allow for “the reversible exchange of quantum information.” Single atoms are the smallest stationary memory for quantum information and single photons would act as the perfect messengers. “One day, this might not only make it possible to communicate quantum information over very large distances, but might enable an entire quantum internet.”