October 4, 2022 — Over the next few decades, quantum computers and novel quantum sensors are expected to be distributed worldwide. By harnessing nature’s microscale quantum characteristics, researchers are developing these devices – said to be more powerful and precise than their traditional counterparts – for applications in many fields, including medicine, finance, energy and logistic.
To realize and fully exploit the combined capabilities of quantum technologies, they will need to be connected through a network capable of transmitting and receiving quantum signals – in effect, a quantum version of today’s internet.
The question currently facing experts in quantum technology is:“What paths should we take to build a quantum information network? »
In August, Q-NEXT and the Chicago Quantum Exchange locally co-hosted the third Workshop on Quantum Repeaters and Networks (WQRN) at the University of Chicago to solve the problem.
Q-NEXT is a US Department of Energy (DOE) National Center for Research in Quantum Information Science led by DOEArgonne National Laboratory. The Chicago Quantum Exchange (EQC) is an intellectual center for advancing quantum information science and engineering within the EQC community, across the Midwest and around the world.
The meeting was part of the WQRN series, launched in 2015, dedicated to solving scientific, engineering and infrastructure problems in the field of communication and quantum networks.
“The workshop strives to set up sessions on the big questions of quantum networks,” said Thaddeus Ladd, Principal Investigator at HRL Laboratories, co-design engineer within Q-NEXT and leader of the local organization sub-committee of the workshop.“We want to update the community of researchers developing theories, components and systems for quantum networks and repeaters and provide a forum – literally a workshop – to inspire and set future directions in the field.
The development of quantum information networks and repeaters – devices that help sustain quantum signals as they travel from point A to point B – is a priority for Q-NEXT and EQC, as well as for scientists and engineers around the world. About 100 researchers from 37 institutions in 13 states and eight foreign countries participated in the workshop.
Unlike larger and broader conferences that only include quantum networks as part of the discussion, the WQRN The series is topic-centric, delving into issues specific to the quantum transmission of information. The workshop is designed to engage both presenters and attendees in a conversation that advances the state of research.
The previous WQRN The meeting took place in 2017, and after five years and a pandemic that put research conferences on hold, the August forum was a welcome opportunity to reconnect.
“It’s harder to keep up when you only see alerts every week about new articles being posted. It’s much better when someone is presenting a talk,” said Tim Spiller, a professor of quantum technologies at the University of York and one of the workshop presenters.“For me, it was nice to see the real progress. It was a very useful update on what is happening in the world.
The pressing issues facing quantum information researchers today were reflected in the overlapping topics in the workshop: current quantum communication efforts around the world, theory and measurements, repeater components and quantum networks, and scaling up the technology.
“Quantum networks are in an interesting place as a technology: they are attracting significant interest and funding around the world, and yet it is still unclear what critical application needs they are best suited to satisfy,” Ladd said.
And that’s the challenge: both to seize the potential of technology, to anticipate its applications and to develop it towards concrete uses — and to do so in a way that satisfies a global community of users.
“The workshop had an element of strategy, discussions about how research is done, not just technical work that is pursued,” Spiller said.
It was a well-balanced meeting, bringing together experts in quantum theory and quantum experimenters, as well as more experienced researchers and early-career scientists.
The weekend workshop was preceded by a half-day tutorial on quantum networks taught by Rodney Van Meter of Keio University. The tutorial was designed to educate experts in traditional information networks on the latest quantum information R&D.
“I don’t know of any other event like this with an international scope in the specific area of repeaters and quantum networks,” Ladd said.“Good science cannot happen in a vacuum. Practitioners need to interact and get direct feedback from their peers, in any field. This type of interaction was active and lively throughout the event.
The following WQRN will take place in 2024.
“A central mission of Q-NEXT and EQC is to promote national and international research in quantum communication, which means making the connection between the achievements and the work that remains to be done. The WQRN was an opportunity to do just that,” said David Awschalom, Director of Q-NEXT and EQCArgonne Senior Scientist and Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering and Associate Dean for Research and Infrastructure at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering.“It is fair to say that almost all of the participants learned something that will influence the direction of their research. I expect many of us will be able to attribute future advances in research to our interactions at this valuable workshop. »
Q-NEXT is a U.S. Department of Energy National Quantum Information Science Research Center led by Argonne National Laboratory. Q-NEXT brings together world-class researchers from national laboratories, universities and US technology companies with the goal of developing science and technology to control and distribute quantum information. Q-NEXT collaborators and institutions will establish two national foundries for quantum materials and devices, develop networks of secure sensors and communication systems, establish simulation and network testbeds, and train the workforce. quantum-ready next-generation work to ensure American scientific and economic continuity. leadership in this rapidly evolving field.
Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts cutting-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state, and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance American scientific leadership, and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees in more than 60 countries, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
Source: Lea Hesla, Argonne