The advent of quantum computing has sparked immense excitement and curiosity among scientists, researchers, and tech enthusiasts. Quantum computers have the potential to revolutionize various industries and fields thanks to their ability to perform complex calculations at unimaginable speeds. However, one of the most intriguing aspects of quantum computing lies in its interaction with the internet and the promising future of the quantum internet. The quantum internet is a somewhat nebulous idea, but most people use the phrase to refer to a network of quantum computers that can communicate with each other (possibly through quantum entanglement), analogous to classical computers doing this via the internet today. In this article, we will explore how quantum computing connects with the conventional internet and delve into the transformative prospects of the quantum internet.

## Quantum Computing and the Conventional Internet

Quantum computing and the conventional internet are fundamentally different entities. Classical computers, which power the internet as we know it, rely on bits, represented by 0s and 1s, to process and store information. Quantum computers, on the other hand, leverage quantum bits, or qubits, which can exist in multiple states simultaneously through the phenomenon of superposition. This unique attribute of qubits allows quantum computers to explore an exponentially larger solution space in specific problems, making them vastly more powerful than their classical counterparts for specific tasks. Thanks to their qubit sources, quantum computers are predicted to be able to process more complicated computing problems, which can lead to advancements in cybersecurity, optimization, and more.

While quantum computers promise to solve many complex problems, they do not entirely replace classical computers. Instead, quantum computers can complement classical systems by handling specific operations where their advantages shine, such as cryptography, optimization, and quantum simulations.

## Quantum Key Distribution: Enhancing Security on the Web

One of the most significant contributions of quantum computing to the conventional internet is in the field of cryptography. Quantum key distribution (QKD) is a groundbreaking application that uses the principles of quantum mechanics to establish secure communication channels between two parties.

Conventional cryptographic techniques rely on the difficulty of solving mathematical problems, such as factorizing large numbers, to secure data. However, quantum computers could potentially break these cryptographic systems, posing a threat to data security.

QKD employs the principles of quantum mechanics to create unbreakable cryptographic keys. By transmitting qubits over a quantum channel, QKD allows two parties to share secret keys while detecting any eavesdropping attempts. Even if an eavesdropper intercepts the qubits, the act of observation will disturb the qubits, alerting the parties involved.

## The Future Quantum Internet: Enabling Unprecedented Connectivity

Beyond enhancing security, the internet’s future lies in the quantum internet’s development. The quantum internet is envisioned as a global network of interconnected quantum computers and devices, enabling quantum communication over long distances. Other devices may include things like quantum sensors or atomic clocks, which could help sync up quantum computers and enhance satellite navigation.

At present, quantum communication is limited to short distances due to the delicate nature of qubits, which are easily susceptible to environmental interference. However, scientists are working on solutions to extend quantum communication to larger scales. This involves the development of quantum repeaters and other quantum technologies to maintain the coherence of qubits over long-haul distances.

The potential of the quantum internet is tremendous. It promises secure communication fundamentally protected by the laws of quantum mechanics, enabling a new era of information exchange, quantum cloud computing, and distributed quantum processing.

Quantum computing’s interaction with the internet is paving the way for the quantum internet—an interconnected network of quantum computers and devices with unprecedented capabilities. As quantum technologies advance, the vision of a quantum internet is edging closer to reality, promising secure communication, distributed quantum computing, and a plethora of revolutionary applications. The fusion of quantum computing and the internet holds the key to shaping a future where computation, communication, and security reach new frontiers.

*Kenna Hughes-Castleberry is a staff writer at Inside Quantum Technology and the Science Communicator at JILA (a partnership between the University of Colorado Boulder and NIST). Her writing beats include deep tech, quantum computing, and AI. Her work has been featured in Scientific American, New Scientist, Discover Magazine, Ars Technica, and more. *