Quantum News Briefs October 17: European Commission reassures that Horizon budget for quantum research won’t be cut; Europe plans to launch quantum encryption satellite Eagle-1 for ultrasecure communications in 2024; New measurements quantifying qudits provide glimpse of quantum future & MORE
Quantum News Briefs October 17 begins with news of the European Commission reassurances that the Horizon budget for quantum research won’t be cut followed by Europe’s plans to launch a quantum encryption satellite Eagle-1 for ultrasecure communications in 2024. Third is new measurements quantifying qudits provide glimpse of quantum future & MORE.
European Commission reassures that Horizon budget for quantum research won’t be cut
EU vice president Margrethe Vestager has reassured MEPs and industry that the European Commission will try to safeguard next year’s Horizon Europe budget and that money will not be taken away from the quantum flagship to fund other initiatives, such as Chips for Europe. Quantum News Briefs summarizes recent article from Europe’s ScienceBusiness.
In a debate on quantum technologies organised by the European Parliament’s STOA panel for the future of science and technology, Latvian MEP Ivars Ijabs and industry representatives asked Vestager whether Horizon Europe money for quantum projects is at risk of being cut.
The Chips for Europe initiative is part of the EU’s proposed Chips Act, a sweeping legislating package aimed at ensuring the EU can research and develop its own advanced and energy efficient semiconductors.
The Commission proposed that the initiative would be partially funded from Horizon Europe, but Vestager denied that the proposal would cut into money already allocated to the Quantum Flagship, a programme dedicated to expanding Europe’s research leadership in quantum technologies.
The Quantum Technologies Flagship was launched in 2018 with an expected budget of €1 billion. After a three year ramp-up phase in which it spent €152 million for 24 projects, the flagship entered into a second phase aimed at bringing research results closer to industrial applications. Click here to read original article.
Europe plans to launch quantum encryption satellite Eagle-1 for ultrasecure communications in 2024
Europe is aiming to launch a technology demonstration satellite for secure, quantum-encrypted communications in 2024, with a view to developing a larger constellation. Quantum News Briefs summarizes below the news item written by Andrew Jones in Space.com.
The satellite, Eagle-1, will be the first space-based quantum key distribution (QKD) system for the European Union and could lead to an ultrasecure communications network for Europe, according to a statement from the European Space Agency (ESA).
Eagle-1 will spend three years in orbit testing the technologies needed for a new generation of secure communications. The satellite will demonstrate the “feasibility of quantum key distribution technology — which uses the principles of quantum mechanics to distribute encryption keys in such a way that any attempt to eavesdrop is immediately detected — within the EU using a satellite-based system,” according to ESA.
Eagle-1 is a small, low Earth orbit satellite, but “it’s quite significant, at around 300 kilograms [660 pounds] … and what is important is that it is a very efficient satellite,” Elodie Viau, director of telecommunications and integrated applications at ESA, said at a news conference at IAC.
The Eagle-1 satellite platform will be provided by Italian company SITAEL. It will carry a quantum-key payload built by Germany-based Tesat Spacecom and will be operated by SES. Companies from Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Switzerland are also involved in the project. Click here to read original article.
New measurements quantifying qudits provide glimpse of quantum future
Recently, researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Purdue University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, or EPFL, fully characterized an entangled pair of eight-level qudits, which formed a 64-dimensional quantum space — quadrupling the previous record for discrete frequency modes. These results were published in Nature Communications.
Although the word “qudit” might look like a typo, this lesser-known cousin of the qubit, or quantum bit, can carry more information and is more resistant to noise — both of which are key qualities needed to improve the performance of quantum networks, quantum key distribution systems and, eventually, the quantum internet.
“We’ve always known that it’s possible to encode 10- or 20-level qudits or even higher using the colors of photons, or optical frequencies, but the problem is that measuring these particles is very difficult,” said Hsuan-Hao Lu, a postdoctoral research associate at ORNL. “That’s the value of this paper — we found an efficient and novel technique that is relatively easy to do on the experimental side.”
Qudits are even more difficult to measure when they are entangled, meaning they share nonclassical correlations regardless of the physical distance between them. Despite these challenges, frequency-bin pairs — two qudits in the form of photons that are entangled in their frequencies — are well suited to carrying quantum information because they can follow a prescribed path through optical fiber without being significantly modified by their environment.
Typically, qudit experiments require researchers to construct a type of quantum circuit called a quantum gate. But in this case, the team used an electro-optic phase modulator to mix different frequencies of light and a pulse shaper to modify the phase of these frequencies. These techniques are studied extensively at the Ultrafast Optics and Optical Fiber Communications Laboratory led by Andrew Weiner at Purdue, where Lu studied before joining ORNL.
“This technique, which involves phase modulators and pulse shapers, is heavily pursued in the classical context for ultrafast and broadband photonic signal processing and has been extended to the quantum avenue of frequency qudits,” Weiner said.
Q-NEXT Scientists Extend Qubit Lifetimes with Asymmetry
A team of researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, MIT, Northwestern University, The University of Chicago and the University of Glasgow.
These researchers have demonstrated that they can extend the lifetime of a molecular qubit by altering the surrounding crystal’s structure to be less symmetrical. The asymmetry protects the qubit from noise, enabling it to maintain information for five times longer than if it were housed in a symmetrical structure. The research team achieved a coherence time — the time the qubit maintains information — of 10 microseconds, or 10 millionths of a second, compared to the 2 microsecond coherence time of a molecular qubit in a symmetrical crystal host.
This newfound ability to chemically control the host environment opens up new space for targeted applications of molecular qubits,” said Danna Freedman, MIT.
The result is supported in part by Q-NEXT, a DOE National Quantum Information Science Research Center led by Argonne.
Why it matters
Longer coherence time: Longer coherence times make for more useful qubits in applications such as computing, long-distance communication and sensing in areas such as medicine, navigation and astronomy.
Modularity: Because the coherence time can be stretched by altering the qubit’s housing or by placing it in a more asymmetrical position relative to its housing, there’s no need to change the qubit itself to achieve longer lifetimes. Just change its situation.
Variability: The effectiveness of this symmetry-breaking technique means that molecular qubits can operate in a wide variety of environments, even those in which noise can’t be reduced.
“This is an important development. Being able to precisely tune a qubit’s environment is a unique advantage of molecular qubits. This can’t be easily done within other material systems,” said Q-NEXT Director and paper co-author David Awschalom, who is also an Argonne senior scientist, vice dean of Research and Infrastructure and the Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering and physics at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, and the director of the Chicago Quantum Exchange.
Sandra K. Helsel, Ph.D. has been researching and reporting on frontier technologies since 1990. She has her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.