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AWS sets up quantum networking research center

Over the last decade, governments and technology companies have invested heavily in research and development of quantum computers that have the potential to revolutionize science and technology. While there is still a long way ahead, these investments have already transformed quantum computers: They have evolved from delicate laboratory systems accessible to only a few research institutions to increasingly reliable and powerful commercial machines available to researchers, developers, and even quantum enthusiasts worldwide via cloud services like Amazon Braket.

While quantum computing continues to be a major area of investment and progress for academic and industry researchers alike, it is only one component of a broader class of quantum technologies. To unlock the full potential of quantum devices, they need to be connected together into a quantum network, similar to the way today’s devices are connected via the internet. Despite not receiving the same level of attention as quantum computers, quantum networks have fascinating possible applications. One of them is enabling global communications protected by quantum key distribution with privacy and security levels not achievable using conventional encryption techniques. Quantum networks will also provide powerful and secure cloud quantum servers by connecting together and amplifying the capabilities of individual quantum processors.

Quantum networks will leverage some technologies already deployed for modern optical communications, such as lasers, fibers, and detectors. However, instead of strong laser beams, quantum networks require single photons — smallest building blocks of light — to connect quantum devices together. Single photons enable many of the special capabilities of quantum networks and simultaneously pose the great challenge: quantum mechanics prohibits their amplification limiting the network range. Also, the weakness of single photons complicates interfacing them with today’s quantum computing devices. This means that special new technologies, such as quantum repeaters and transducers, will need to be developed in order to implement global quantum networks.

Today we announce the AWS Center for Quantum Networking (CQN) with a mission to address these fundamental scientific and engineering challenges and to develop new hardware, software, and applications for quantum networks. CQN will complement the advanced quantum science and engineering efforts already underway at the AWS Center for Quantum Computing and the Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab.

Like quantum computers, quantum networks are still at an early stage of development, with many outstanding challenges remaining before their full potential is reached. Through our investment in quantum research and workforce development, the AWS CQN aims to bring quantum network-enabled advances in privacy, security, and computational power one step closer to our customers. BCS Bureau

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