Amazon Web Services partners with Harvard University to further research and development on quantum networks.
Specifically, the AWS Center for Quantum Networking (CQN) and the Harvard Quantum Initiative (HQI) will partner to cultivate projects aimed at developing quantum memory, integrated photonics, and quantum applications that could help underpin future networks. quantum computers and a quantum internet.
The collaboration includes funding from AWS to upgrade quantum manufacturing capabilities at Harvard’s Center for Nanoscale Systems, which works on nanofabrication, materials characterization, soft lithography and imaging, and is also receiving funding from the National Science Foundation.
The three-year research alliance with HQI is the first partnership signed by AWS CQN since AWS announced it in June. AWS also operates the Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab and offers the Amazon Braket service.
For its part, HQI seeks to build a quantum ecosystem that brings together scientists and engineers from universities, companies and government entities. The idea is to advance the science and engineering of quantum systems, from high-speed networking to secure communications and ultra-precise sensing, according to HQI.
“The collaborative initiative between AWS and Harvard will harness the best research talent to explore quantum networks today,” said Antia Lamas-Linares, head of quantum networks at AWS. “Exploring this potential requires a deep understanding of industry’s toughest scientific challenges that will lead to the development of new hardware, software, and applications for quantum networks.”
In the distant future, networked quantum computers will bring a variety of new applications with clustered computers. In the near term, quantum security and privacy applications are now relevant to AWS, Lamas-Linares said.
“One of them enables global communications protected by quantum key distribution with levels of privacy and security unattainable with conventional encryption techniques,” according to a recent blog post by CQN researchers. “Quantum networks will also provide powerful and secure quantum cloud servers by connecting and amplifying the capabilities of individual quantum processors.”
Beyond security applications, quantum networks offer other potentially revolutionary developments, including the so-called quantum internet.
Industry-wide research on quantum technology
Providers and agencies, including the Center for Quantum Networks, seek to build the quantum internet, which it says will spur new technology industries and a competitive marketplace of quantum service providers and app developers.
For example, researchers from the Cisco Quantum Lab recently wrote that beyond applications related to communication and cryptography, the quantum network can be a key element in the development of large-scale quantum computers via the interconnection of several quantum chips. In addition, networked quantum sensors collectively exchanging quantum information have higher detection power. In the future, thousands, if not millions, of devices could be connected through a global quantum internet.
“Another example of a quantum internet application is privacy-preserving quantum computing, aka blind computing, where a user can remotely access a quantum computer to perform a computation while the computation itself remains hidden from the provider. quantum computer,” the Cisco researchers said. “For example, a pharmaceutical company can design a drug molecule privately on a quantum computer without sharing the drug formula. These applications provide business value and justify the development of quantum networking technology,” said the Cisco researchers.
One of the ideas behind the AWS and Harvard work will be to take the next big steps in quantum networks. “So not just quantum information, which we already know how to do to some degree. We can transfer qubits from A to B using photons,” Lamas-Linares said.
“But really, how do you extend the range? How to approach complex topologies? How to accelerate the development of these future components of the quantum network? For this we need memory, routing, advanced silicon photonics, integrated photonics, repeaters and much more.
“Each of these components is a research project in itself. This is why there is such great potential for collaboration between academia and industry.”
In addition to technology development, CQN and Harvard seek to build the skilled workforce needed to drive the development of quantum networks.
With that in mind, AWS will fund the AWS Generation Q Fund at HQI, a new scholarship program for post-baccalaureates, graduate students, and post-docs to train the next generation of quantum scientists and engineers.
“We need to get more people trained in quantum technologies and bring that capability to universities, national labs and industry,” Lamas-Linares said.
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