Manufacturing Bits: Aug. 18

Quantum Internet; quantum computing consortium; AI.


Quantum Internet
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently unveiled a strategy to develop a quantum Internet in the United States.

DOE’s 17 National Laboratories will serve as the backbone of the quantum Internet, which will rely on the laws of quantum mechanics to control and transmit information over a network. Currently in its initial stages of development, the quantum Internet could become a secure communications network for use in science, industry and national security.

A quantum Internet, which could be within reach over the next decade, are difficult to eavesdrop.

The concept is related to quantum computing. In classical computing, the information is stored in bits, which can be either a “0” or “1”. In quantum computing, information is stored in quantum bits, or qubits, which can exist as a “0” or “1” or a combination of both. The superposition state enables a quantum computer to perform millions of calculations at once.

A quantum Internet could provide a secure, if not unbreakable network. Traditional communication networks use public key cryptography. In contrast, quantum key distribution (QKD) uses quantum superposition states for unconditional security.

The DOE report lays out the research objectives for building a quantum Internet. It requires quantum networking devices, which in turn routes quantum information with error correction. To put the nationwide network into place, there are four key milestones: verify secure quantum protocols over existing fiber networks; send entangled information across campuses or cities; expand the networks between cities; and expand between states, using quantum repeaters to amplify signals.

Steps toward building such an Internet are underway in the Chicago region. Earlier this year, DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Ill. and the University of Chicago entangled photons across a 52-mile “quantum loop” in the Chicago suburbs, establishing one of the longest land-based quantum networks in the nation. That network will soon be connected to DOE’s Fermilab in Batavia, Ill., establishing a three-node, 80-mile testbed.

Other labs are also driving advances in quantum networking. Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory, working with the DOE’s Energy Sciences Network headquartered at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, have established an 80-mile quantum network testbed and are expanding it in New York State and at Oak Ridge and Los Alamos National Laboratories.

Quantum consortium
IBM and the University of Tokyo recently launched of a new quantum computing consortium in Japan.

The organization, called the Quantum Innovation Initiative Consortium (QIIC), is designed to accelerate quantum computing R&D activities in Japan. The consortium will bring academic talent from across Japan and develop technology for quantum computing in Japan.

Headquartered at the University of Tokyo, QIIC will include Keio University, Toshiba, Hitachi, Mizuho, MUFG, JSR, DIC, Toyota, Mitsubishi Chemicals and IBM Japan.

The members of the consortium will also be part of the IBM Q Network. The network is a community of startups, academic institutions and research labs, which will advance quantum computing as well as the applications base.

QIIC will also have access to an IBM Q System One, a dedicated system planned for installation in Japan in 2021. Last year, IBM unveiled the Q System One, a quantum computing system designed for scientific and commercial applications. IBM also announced plans to open its first Q Quantum Computation Center in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

The IBM Q System One is comprised of a number of custom components that work together to serve as a cloud-based quantum computing system. The design includes a nine-foot-tall, nine-foot-wide case of half-inch thick borosilicate glass forming a sealed enclosure. The system opens using “roto-translation,” a motor-driven rotation around two displaced axes engineered to simplify the system’s maintenance and upgrade process.

The system aims to address one of the most challenging aspects of quantum computing: maintaining the quality of qubits used to perform quantum computing calculations. Qubits lose their properties, typically within 100 microseconds, due in part to the interconnected machinery’s ambient noise of vibrations, temperature fluctuations, and electromagnetic waves, according to IBM.

“The QIIC will greatly advance Japan’s entire quantum computing ecosystem, bringing experts from industry, government and academia together to collaborate on research and development,” said Dario Gil, director of IBM Research. “Quantum computing has the potential to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges in the future. We expect that it will help us accelerate scientific discovery so that we can develop vaccines more quickly and accurately, create new materials to address climate change or design better energy storage technologies.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. announced $37 million in funding for R&D in artificial intelligence and machine learning methods to handle data and operations at DOE scientific user facilities.

Seven DOE national laboratories will lead a total of 14 projects aimed at both automating facility operations and managing data modeling, acquisition, mining, and analysis for the interpretation of experimental results. The projects involve large X-ray light sources, neutron scattering sources, particle accelerators, and nanoscale science research centers.

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