We are building the world's first quantum internet prototype.
Following a systems engineering approach, we are building a full-stack prototype network that can distribute quantum entanglement between two metropolitan-scale networks and over long distance using quantum repeaters. The system will be based on state-of-the art quantum hardware and software we developed in the past.
The prototype network will include photonic clients – devices that allow future users to run higher stage quantum network applications between distant processing nodes of the network. All elements of the network including our processing nodes and repeaters are designed to be compact and portable to allow for operation outside the lab.
Parallel to the focused effort to build a prototype system, we are also exploring alternative hardware platforms and other technical solutions that have a clear potential to improve the performance, scalability and functionality of the final product.
Key components of our prototype network
We aim at building metropolitan networks that can distribute quantum entanglement as a network resource to enable running complex quantum network application. To ensure functionality, scalability and integration between networks across long distance, we are developing the following building blocks:
Processing nodes. We are developing quantum processors capable of coherent manipulation of individual qubits of sufficiently high fidelity to satisfy network and application demands, and that can execute quantum protocols beyond QKD. For this purpose, we are advancing various technologies such as trapped ions, group-IV color centres in diamond and silicon vacancy centre in silicon carbide
Photonic clients. These are low-cost client devices capable to run simple applications or access processing node servers to request a service. Such photonic clients will provide access to users with minimal quantum resources, which will enable metropolitan networks to expand to hundreds of users in the next ten years.
Metropolitan hubs. To scale beyond the current prototype networks containing just a few quantum processors, we are building heralding hubs that will allow to connect many (distinct) nodes via a sharable interface that also allows entanglement to be distributed across long distances.
Long Distance Backbone
We are building quantum repeaters based on heralded entanglement to efficiently distribute entanglement and entangle long-lived qubits in a future Quantum Internet. To achieve this goal, quantum memories with high performance in terms of memory efficiency, storage time, and multiplexing are needed.
Hardware platform. Teams from QIA partners are working together to develop quantum repeater technology that will enable secure long-distance communication. Our system engineering efforts focus on developing compact and transportable quantum repeater nodes. We also pursue other approaches to mitigate risks. Quantum repeater technology in use in QIA includes the use of rare-earth solids, cold atoms, neutral atoms and multi-photon graph states.
Software and Network Stack
We are creating a quantum networked system that can run user applications on platform-independent software. To achieve this goal, we are developing two stacks: the quantum node and control plane stacks.
We already developed a quantum network protocol stack and demonstrated entanglement delivery through software and network stack. Now, we are improving the stack for large-scale metropolitan networks which are connected over long distance.
Quantum node stack.The complete stack of classical hardware and software that controls the quantum resources at each individual quantum node. It allows the end-users to execute their applications using a programmable and platform-independent interface while it itself ensures that applications are correctly co-scheduled with the network protocol stack.
Control plane stack. A software layer that is responsible for the network-wide coordination of resource usage for the purpose of entanglement generation across multiple nodes. By coordinating with the Quantum Node Stack through a network control interface, the control plane will allow for efficient and reactive automated network-wide control by the network operator.