Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) in Garching, Germany, claim to have built the world’s first quantum network.
Researchers believe the elementary network could one day allow for transfer speeds that vastly outperform the current telecommunication network.
"We have realised the first prototype of a quantum network," said Stephan Ritter, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute.
"We achieve reversible exchange of quantum information between the nodes."
Like modern telecommunication networks, the quantum networks work by transferring data between two separate nodes.
In a classical network information is relayed between the two different nodes using bits which are represented by ones or zeroes.
In a quantum network, however, a qubit can represent both a one and a zero at the same time, enabling it to carry more information than a digital bit.
"This approach to quantum networking is particularly promising because it provides a clear perspective for scalability," said lead researcher, Gerhard Rempe.
The key for scientists on the project was to create nodes that were stable enough to handle the needs of quantum qubits.
The researchers were able to map information about the quantum states of their qubits on photon carrier particles, capable of retaining that information as it travelled along a 60-metre fibre optic cable to another lab.
The photons' ability to share information between qubits that allowed for the quantum breakthrough and the chance to create a scalable network capable of communication over long distances.
"One day, this might not only make it possible to communicate quantum information over very large distances, but might enable an entire quantum internet," Ritter explained.
While the network is only in the early stages of development the experiment did prove that the quantum network could perform faster and more securely than the non-quantum parts found in current network infrastructure devices.
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