Scientists have developed a prototype quantum “hard drive” with the capability of storing data for up to an unprecedented six hours.
The record storage time was achieved by researchers at the Australian National University (ANU).
“We believe it will soon be possible to distribute quantum information between any two points on the globe,” said the study’s lead author Manjin Zhong, of the ANU’s Research School of Physics and Engineering (RSPE).
Information was stored by directly writing the quantum state on the nuclear spin of a substance using laser light. The ANU scientists, assisted by a team from the Otago University, used solid europium crystal atoms for the process.
“Quantum states are very fragile and normally collapse in milliseconds. Our long storage times have the potential to revolutionize the transmission of quantum information,” the lead author added.
The team tested the stored data’s stability by subjecting the crystal to various magnetic fields to see if the fragile quantum information remains unaltered.
“We can now imagine storing entangled light in separate crystals and then transporting them to different parts of the network thousands of kilometers apart. So, we are thinking of our crystals as portable optical hard drives for quantum entanglement,” said Zhong.
Quantum particles, such as photons of light, can be made in a certain way that they become intrinsically linked and are referred to as entangled particles.
Regardless of how far they are separated, interactions with either of these entangled particles affect the other, making it virtually impossible for unauthorized persons to tamper with the process.
“Our storage times are now so long that it means people need to rethink what is the best way to distribute quantum data. Even transporting our crystals at pedestrian speeds we have less loss than laser systems for a given distance,” Zhong said.
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