Based on research published in Quantum Science and Technology, and news reported by Science Alert, quantum internet is officially a “thing.” In fact, scientists are saying that it promises high security in “next generation communications,” and is “feasible on a global scale.”
According to Science Alert, the quantum internet was achieved when scientists exchanged photons in pulses of infrared light, which were carried between Russian GLONASS satellites and the Space Geodesy Centre, run by the Italian Space Agency. The signals were able to pass through over 12,000 miles of air and space without interference or data loss, which, scientists say, “represent a promising way to guarantee unconditional security for satellite-to-ground and inter-satellite optical links.”
That “promising way,” says Science Alert, is quantum key distribution (QKD), which involves data encryption via quantum mechanics; this quickly detects any interferences during data exchanges, and makes QKD practically “impossible to intercept.”
While QKD makes the idea of quantum internet a seem foolproof and decision makers’ ideal internet solution, Science Alert says that keeping internet channels open and secure across long distances is harder than it looks.
In order for this solution to successfully exchange data, Science Alert says, passive retro-reflectors need to be mounted on satellites, enabling long-distance light signals to stay intact. This is tougher than the internet solutions decision makers are used to, because the distance is longer than usual. Science Alert says QKD breaks “the previous record distance for this type of quantum communication by an extra…9,321 miles.” On top of that, satellites that are placed higher into orbit are more difficult to communicate with, while they do pass more readily in front of ground stations “more regularly.”
Plus, Science Alert says that we’ve only grazed the tip of the iceberg of the quantum internet; “scientists are still trying to figure out if it can actually work – and for the moment it’s not clear exactly what a quantum internet would be used for or how it might be operated.” As a result, decision makers should stay tuned for tech developments in QKD.