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Amazon’s AWS sets up lab to develop quantum networking

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Amazon has set up a centre in California to develop quantum-secure networking.

The Amazon Web Services (AWS) Center for Quantum Networking is associated with the company’s Center for Quantum Computing, announced in October 2021 and based at the Caltech campus in Pasadena, California.

AWS researchers Denis Sukachev and Mihir Bhaskar say in a blog this week that they want to use some technologies already used for modern optical communications – including such as lasers, fibres and detectors – but to use single photons instead of laser beams to connect quantum devices together.

A key use “is enabling global communications protected by quantum key distribution with privacy and security levels not achievable using conventional encryption techniques”, write Sukachev and Bhaskar.

“Quantum networks will also provide powerful and secure cloud quantum servers by connecting together and amplifying the capabilities of individual quantum processors.”

They say the development of quantum computers has “the potential to revolutionize science and technology”, and is being extended from “a few research institutions to increasingly reliable and powerful commercial machines available to researchers, developers and even quantum enthusiasts worldwide via cloud services like Amazon Bracket”.

But, they write, “quantum computing … is only one component of a broader class of quantum technologies. To unlock the full potential of quantum devices, they need to be connected together into a quantum network, similar to the way today’s devices are connected via the internet.”

The new Center for Quantum Networking (CQN) will explore the developments needed to turn quantum networking into a practical reality.

Sukachev and Bhaskar list some of the challenges ahead: in particular, single photons are weak, but cannot be amplified, limiting their range.

The weakness of single photons complicates interfacing them with quantum computing devices, and that means special new technologies, such as quantum repeaters and transducers, will need to be developed in order to implement global quantum networks.

“Quantum networks are still at an early stage of development, with many outstanding challenges remaining before their full potential is reached,” they warn.

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