Scientists to scale up quantum data breakthrough

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Scientists to scale up quantum data breakthrough

Another decade before commercial products are on the market.

Researchers have found a way to simplify the manipulation of light for quantum computing applications and say they will develop the concept further to show it can scale.

The research, published in the journal Nature Photonics, is part of an ongoing body of work being conducted by scientists at the ARC centre of excellence for quantum-atom optics at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra.

The Australian Defence Force and French researchers are also involved in the project.

Research leader Dr Jiri Janousek, based at ANU, said his team had "experimentally" proven the use of quantum or optical entanglement to convey information.

"Light beams produced from lasers can be used to convey information via a process known as quantum entanglement," Janousek said.

"Until now, the amount of information that could be conveyed using optical entanglement was limited by levels of complexity.

"The ability to scale up information transfer is hampered by the fact that you need to increase the number of nonclassical light sources, splitters and receivers each time you want to add another channel of information."

Janousek said his team had found "a new, simpler way of manipulating light to convey much more information using fewer light beams and resources".

Only one light source and one receiver are now required to generate optical entanglement, he said.

The breakthrough means optical entanglement can be more simply scaled up to convey many times more information channels than was previously possible.

But Janousek said much more work is required before the results can be translated into commercial products.

"After that happens some companies might be interested in it but so far I don't see [that commercial interest]," he said.

Commercial uses in secure data transfer and communications could be up to 10 years away.

The timeframe for quantum computer development - of which Janousek said the research is a small piece of the puzzle - will take five times longer, he said.

"The research we're talking about is at a very fundamental stage," Janousek said.

"We're trying to prove the laws of quantum physics first. It's pure research."

Janousek said ARC has already secured funding to develop the concept further.

The research reported today took 12 months to complete.

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