In the future, there may be a “quantum Internet” that comprises a network of quantum devices that enable security, privacy, and processing capabilities that are not possible with today’s Internet. It’s just one of the technological triumphs that could eventually be achieved if several scientific challenges are solved.
Among them is the development of efficient and robust quantum interconnects, which are the quantum version of the “wires” that serve as the nervous system for electronic devices. These wires would be used to transmit the quantum information that serves as the foundation of these future applications. However, creating good interconnects for quantum systems has proven to be difficult.
Recently, researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign were awarded a grant to begin developing interconnects that, if successful, could serve as linkages in a network of quantum processors and other elements. The new project, called “QuIC-TAQS: Interconnects for a Superconducting-Atomic Hybrid Quantum Network,” has been funded at $2.5 million for four years by the National Science Foundation.
“Transduction” is the process of converting one type of energy to another, and scientists have struggled to achieve good transduction across quantum devices that work at very different frequencies, as needed to create effective interconnects. One thrust of the research will center around creating efficient protocols for transduction that can tolerate imperfections in device fabrication, and that operate over a wide range of parameters.
“Quantum processors and memory devices operate at fairly low frequencies (comparable to wireless networks) in the so-called microwave regime, whereas quantum repeaters (communication stations that extend the signal range across long distances) would use optical photons, which are comparable to telecommunications frequencies,” said Wolfgang Pfaff, assistant professor of physics at UIUC and the project’s principal investigator.