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Building A Better Qubit: Combining Six Photons Avoids Quantum Data Scrambling

Date:
October 11, 2009
Source:
American Physical Society
Summary:
The qubits that carry quantum information are typically fragile, but a new method of combing six photons leads to robust qubits that are immune to many of the effects that threaten to scramble quantum data.

A new method for combining six photons together results in a highly robust qubit capable of transporting quantum information over long distances.
Credit: Image courtesy of Carin Cain

Exploiting quantum mechanics for transmitting information is a tantalizing possibility because it promises secure, high speed communications. Unfortunately, the fragility of methods for storing and sending quantum information has so far frustrated the enterprise. Now a team of physicists in Sweden and Poland have shown that photons that encode data have strength in numbers.

Their experiment is reported in Physical Review Letters and Physical Review A and highlighted in the October 5 issue of Physics (http://physics.aps.org).

In classical communications, a bit can represent one of two states - either 0 or 1. But because photons are quantum mechanical objects, they can exist in multiple states at the same time. Photons can also be combined, in a process known as entanglement, to store a bit of quantum information (i.e. a qubit).

Unlike data stored in a computer or typically sent through conventional fiber optic cables, however, qubits are extremely fragile. A kink in a cable, the properties of the cable material, or even changes in temperature can corrupt a qubit and destroy the information it carries. But now a group lead by Magnus Rεdmark at Stockholm University has shown that six entangled photons can encode information that stands up to some knocking around.

Rεdmark and his team proved experimentally that their six photon qubits are robust and should be able to reliably carry information over long distances. The technology to encode useful information on the qubits and subsequently read it back is still lacking, but once those problems are solved, we will be well on our way to secure, reliable, and speedy quantum communication.


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The above story is based on materials provided by American Physical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Physical Society. "Building A Better Qubit: Combining Six Photons Avoids Quantum Data Scrambling." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091005123050.htm>.
American Physical Society. (2009, October 11). Building A Better Qubit: Combining Six Photons Avoids Quantum Data Scrambling. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091005123050.htm
American Physical Society. "Building A Better Qubit: Combining Six Photons Avoids Quantum Data Scrambling." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091005123050.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

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