‘Spooky action at a distance’ for an unhackable internet

Challenged by the hacking epidemics of today’s internet, businesses, governments, and the military are actively exploring the exciting prospect of a more secure alternative. Quantum physicists come to their aid by promising quantum networks where information is created, stored and transferred exploiting the bizarre behavior of the quantum world—the quantum entanglement phenomenon, or as Einstein said “spooky action at a distance”. Freed from many limitations of “classical” networks, these systems can provide a level of privacy, security and computational power that is impossible to achieve with today’s internet.

The quantum internet, just like the traditional internet, will be a globe-spanning network of networks, but shall transfer qubits instead of bits exploiting the underlying quantum communications technology. It is not going to replace the internet as we know; photos, videos and non-sensitive data will still be moved around in classical bits. But it will appeal to enterprises with valuable data sources that need to be securely transferred, and in the future, when quantum computers shall be available in the cloud, to enable information flow among them.

Our goal is to implement complex quantum devices presently found in metre-size breadboards on millimeter-size chips in a cost-efficient way so that to be used in home appliances and even in the smartphones of the future. Even more, to nail the quantum internet burdens, we will demonstrate a quantum router for on-demand entanglement distribution in optical-fibre networks, a stepping stone to achieve longer-distance connections that a world-wide internet assumes.