Quantum hard drive breakthrough

January 8, 2015, Australian National University
Writing quantum information onto a europium ion embedded in a crystal. Image Solid State Spectroscopy Group, ANU

Physicists developing a prototype quantum hard drive have improved storage time by a factor of more than 100.

The team's record storage time of six hours is a major step towards a secure worldwide data encryption network based on , which could be used for banking transactions and personal emails.

"We believe it will soon be possible to distribute quantum information between any two points on the globe," said lead author Manjin Zhong, from the Research School of Physics and Engineering (RSPE).

"Quantum states are very fragile and normally collapse in milliseconds. Our long storage times have the potential to revolutionise the transmission of quantum information."

Quantum information promises unbreakable encryption because such as photons of light can be created in a way that intrinsically links them. Interactions with either of these entangled particles affect the other, no matter how far they are separated.

The team of physicists at ANU and the University of Otago stored quantum information in atoms of the rare earth element europium embedded in a crystal.

Their solid-state technique is a promising alternative to using laser beams in optical fibres, an approach which is currently used to create quantum networks around 100 kilometres long.

"Our storage times are now so long that it means people need to rethink what is the best way to distribute quantum data," Ms Zhong said.

Manjin Zhong in the Solid State Spectroscopy lab at RSPE
"Even transporting our crystals at pedestrian speeds we have less loss than laser systems for a given distance."

"We can now imagine storing entangled light in separate crystals and then transporting them to different parts of the network thousands of kilometres apart. So, we are thinking of our crystals as portable optical hard drives for quantum entanglement."

After writing a quantum state onto the nuclear spin of the europium using laser light, the team subjected the crystal to a combination of a fixed and oscillating magnetic fields to preserve the fragile quantum information.

"The two fields isolate the europium spins and prevent the quantum information leaking away," said Dr Jevon Longdell of the University of Otago.

The ANU group is also excited about the fundamental tests of quantum mechanics that a quantum optical hard drive will enable.

"We have never before had the possibility to explore over such long distances," said Associate Professor Matthew Sellars, leader of the research team.

"We should always be looking to test whether our theories match up with reality. Maybe in this new regime our theory of quantum mechanics breaks."

Their research is published in Nature.

Explore further: Doing more with less: Steering a quantum path to improved internet security

More information: "Optically addressable nuclear spins in a solid with a six-hour coherence time." Nature 517, 177–180 (08 January 2015) DOI: 10.1038/nature14025

"Quantum information: Spin memories in for the long haul." Nature 517, 153–154 (08 January 2015) DOI: 10.1038/517153a

Related Stories

Reviving Einstein's spooky action at a distance

March 18, 2014

Physicists at The University of Queensland and the Australian National University (ANU) have demonstrated a software-based quantum amplifier which has the potential to expand the use of ultra-secure quantum cryptographic ...

Quantum holograms as atomic scale memory keepsake

October 21, 2014

Russian scientists have developed a theoretical model of quantum memory for light, adapting the concept of a hologram to a quantum system. These findings from Anton Vetlugin and Ivan Sokolov from St. Petersburg State University ...

Recommended for you

Scientists produce 3-D chemical maps of single bacteria

November 16, 2018

Scientists at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II)—a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility at DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory—have used ultrabright x-rays to image single bacteria ...

Quantum science turns social

November 15, 2018

Researchers in a lab at Aarhus University have developed a versatile remote gaming interface that allowed external experts as well as hundreds of citizen scientists all over the world to optimize a quantum gas experiment ...

Bursting bubbles launch bacteria from water to air

November 15, 2018

Wherever there's water, there's bound to be bubbles floating at the surface. From standing puddles, lakes, and streams, to swimming pools, hot tubs, public fountains, and toilets, bubbles are ubiquitous, indoors and out.

Terahertz laser pulses amplify optical phonons in solids

November 15, 2018

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg/Germany presents evidence of the amplification of optical phonons ...

3 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ViperSRT3g
5 / 5 (2) Jan 08, 2015
Forgive my lack of background knowledge or possibly overlooking it, but what group is this ANU acronym? I didn't see it mentioned anywhere at all in the article.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Jan 08, 2015
ANU = Australian National University
holoman
5 / 5 (2) Jan 08, 2015
http://www.prosel...age.aspx

The inventor and patents holder of this technology and many other technologies gives free usage of all his inventions technology to all parties. He will be posting 20 other technologies free to the world.

http://thomasinst...bly.com/

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.