A spin-off from Stony Brook University is building a test bed for a real-life quantum internet.
The company’s GothamQ project is a far cry from the on-screen “Quantumania” of Marvel’s latest Ant-Man and Wasp adventure, but it could lead to a future where online communications are secure from hackers.
Unlike the existing internet, where billions of pulsed photons (the basic unit of light) generate 0’s and 1’s to let us check our Instagram account or fantasy football team, the quantum internet sends out one photon at a time. with coded information.
The spin-off company, Qunnect Inc., grew out of Stony Brook University physics professor Eden Figueroa’s research and doctoral dissertation in physics. Mehdi Namazi, co-founder and chief scientific officer of the company.
In October, the company, now based at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, announced it had raised an $8.5 million round of venture capital led by Airbus Ventures, whose limited partners include the European airliner maker.
That funding will be used to expand the company from 13 to 18 employees and build a 21-mile quantum loop through Brooklyn and Queens and a smaller second phase connecting the New York University campus, officials said.
The quantum loop will operate on the same underground fiber optic lines used for the traditional Internet, but will use additional equipment developed by Qunnect that manages the information encoded in individual photons.
The researchers ultimately hope to create a quantum internet that can link ultra-fast quantum computers, but the day when average users can take advantage of such a system is likely many years, if not decades, in the future.
Qunnect CEO Noel L. Goddard compares the first iterations of the quantum internet to the birth of the classical internet, whose early protocols in the 1960s and 1970s were laborious.
“They weren’t winning any sprints,” he said. “That’s more or less where the quantum internet is today.”
However, Goddard said governments and defense, communications and financial services companies, potential early adopters, have a keen interest because a peculiar feature of the technology instantly alerts users when their connection has been hacked, providing a new security level.
Major banks including Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo have already hired quantum scientists and Qunnect demonstrated its devices at US Air Force Laboratories in Rome, New York, which is conducting its own research, he said.
Companies like Verizon, Alphabet, IBM, Northrop Grumman, and chipmaker Nvidia are also looking at quantum initiatives.
Previous funding rounds from Long Island Angels’ Qunnect, Empire State Development’s Accelerate NY Seed Fund and others totaled $1.8 million. Before moving to Brooklyn, the company was headquartered at Stony Brook University’s Center of Excellence in Wireless and Computing Technology.
Qunnect’s products include a specialized quantum memory that manages single photons and a device that generates so-called “entangled” photons.
By creating the GothamQ loop, Qunnect is installing its devices on a challenging mix of underground fiber optics that is subject to urban vibrations and northeastern weather changes, which can affect quantum interactions, Goddard said.
“It’s a great test bed,” he said.
Internet enters the quantum realm
- classic computers they use strings of 1s and 0s to encode and transmit data, while quantum computers take advantage of the peculiar behavior of subatomic particles like photons and electrons.
- quantum systems it can encode more information because photons and other subatomic particles can simultaneously be a 1 and a 0, a phenomenon known to scientists as “superposition.”
- further improve Due to their ability to carry information, photons can be split and yet instantly share information even when they are miles apart, a process known as “entanglement.”