Quantum Internet in Use at Los Alamos National Labs for over Two Years
Scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the United States, claimed that they have been using a quantum internet for the last two and a half years. Their version of such a network involves a hub-and-spoke layout where a central hub is responsible of interlinking quantum networks.
Quantum computing has been touted by experts and physicists as the next wave in the 21st century. It is supposedly able to overcome the physical boundaries of silicon that is currently the primary material used to manufacture computing processors. When quantum computing is applied to networking, it enables secure messaging known as quantum cryptography that theoretically cannot be wiretapped or tampered with, ensuring the data is only received by the target recipient. Such technology is already available commercially.
Such seemingly perfect security provided by quantum networking only exists with a single network, in order for multiple networks to be interlinked into an internet, routers need to be called to play. However, there are no routers that are capable of addressing this conundrum due to the perfectly secured data packets that are transmitted on a quantum network. According to MIT Technology Review, scientists at the federal government-linked Los Alamos National Laboratory developed a workaround method of converting data from the quantum networks into normal data packets for routing purposes. Before the data packets get streamed back to the quantum networks, they get converted into quantum ones. With this central hub and spokes network model, the researchers have created a hybrid quantum network.
The publication noted that there is a single point of failure in this model as the hub may be comprised and undermine the purported network security offered by quantum networking. Another issue is the scalability of this network model as the number of links or 'spokes" to the hub increases, it becomes extremely difficult to manage the sheer amount of traffic that flows through the hub for data conversion.
The researchers have taken a step forward to design a quantum transmitter that may potentially allow any networked device on a fiber optical network to securely transmit data packets and message across to another network, using a quantum network backbone. However, these are just stop-gap measures as a purely quantum network would allow secure communication from end-to-end.