A new era for the Internet: Engineers linked a quantum computer to fiber optics for the first time

The fiber optic system can create new qubits right at work and does not overheat even at room temperature.

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Scientists from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) have developed a platform for a quantum computer compatible with a conventional fiber-optic network. The Phys Org website writes about their research.

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Optical quantum computers have long been inferior to the superconducting technologies being developed by such giants as IBM and Google. The situation could change dramatically with a versatile and scalable platform from Danish engineers that works even at room temperature – normally quantum devices get very hot and require a room with a powerful cooling system.

In conventional quantum computers, basic logic particles (qubits) carry information through a “gate” that performs operations prescribed by an algorithm. Researchers at DTU have succeeded in creating a universal set of such gates that allow multiple operations on qubits – a real breakthrough in the field of optical quantum computing.

“This means that any arbitrary algorithm can be implemented on our platform with the right input data, namely optical qubits. The computer is completely programmable,” explained lead author Mikkel Wilsbell Larsen.

As another author, Jonas S. Neergaard-Nielsen, added, one of the main advantages of their system is the ability to control thousands of qubits. Superconductor-based systems are limited by the number of qubits that can be placed on a chip processor, but optical ones can use thousands of particles and constantly create new ones, depending on the task.

“In addition, we don’t have to cool everything in big cryostats. Instead, we can do it all at room temperature in optical fibers. The fact that the system is based on optical fibers also means that it can be connected directly to the quantum Internet of the future without intermediaries,” Jonas noted.

The potential of a quantum computer is enormous, and its growing computational power will enable sophisticated computing in a wide range of fields, such as pharmaceuticals, medicine, transportation optimization, innovative materials development and so on. However, the biggest problem with this technology is the high probability of failure, which engineers cannot yet completely eliminate in either the superconductor or the optical version. In the future, Danish scientists are going to implement their technology into the optical chip and achieve error correction.