By Tim Kalinowski on February 19, 2021.
The Quantum realm may be much closer than we think with significant recent advances in the world of Quantum computing and communications on the near horizon, says Saurya Das, University of Lethbridge professor of Physics, and distinguished member of the high-achieving Quantum Alberta Network.
The Quantum Alberta Network is made up of dozens of scientists from the Universities of Lethbridge, Calgary and Alberta.
“This type of research, which is Quantum science and technology, is one of the most important areas of research now from the point of view of fundamental science as well as technology,” he says. “Canada is a world leader, and Alberta is a leader in Canada.
“Quantum technology will be used in a host of devices in the future. If we have to categorize, quantum computers are probably the most important. Computers are reaching a stage where what is called Moore’s Law would get violated at some point, because you can’t make machines smaller than the size of atoms. These quantum computers are the computers of the future, and so is the Quantum internet.”
What he means to say is the current computers and classical computing are reaching the limits of their technological abilities, and will soon be surpassed by quantum computers which, he predicts, will enter common usage in about a generation.
“They are way faster and with more memory storage,” Das states, “but in terms of actual practice – the ones made so far are very small. So they are not yet practical for using in regular computations, running programs, or communication yet. But they are scaling – their size is growing by leaps and bounds. We are still a decade off, I would say.”
One example of something a Quantum computer will be able to do that a computer today can’t do, he says, is work in very high numbers.
Current encoding techniques simply make the numeric combinations used to secure information so high that current computers can’t easily calculate them by running a factoring program. These high number combinations (encryptions) will be easily broken by Quantum computers, Das predicts. The quantum internet or communication will also be many degrees faster, he says, because it relies on the principles of what is called entanglement.
“When you have an object here and a (related) object there, they could be two metres apart, 200 km apart, or two million kilometres apart,” he states. “In Quantum language, if they were together (entangled) at some point in time, or there was some connection being made, and then they are taken apart they still, in a sense, share the same Quantum DNA. So if you do something (to one), even if it is a million kilometres away, something happens (to the other) … Information gets transmitted Quantum mechanically with almost no loss because of the shared DNA.”
Recently, scientists from the University of Calgary who are members of the Quantum Alberta Network working as a team with international collaborators, made worldwide headlines by teleporting, (yes, “teleporting” is the correct term) data from one point instantly to another related point several kilometres away.
“It sounds mystical, like Star Trek and everything, but it is real science,” states Das.
While U of L scientists were not directly involved in the teleportation experiment, they are making other important contributions as part of the overall network.
Das says Lethbridge residents should be proud that right here at their own hometown university the approaching quantum future is being written as we speak.
“You are one of the first to open the door,” explains Das.
“It is completely unknown, and that is the fun part of it. I think people in Lethbridge should take pride in what we are doing. This is the research and technology of the future. It will revolutionize science and technology, communication, and the internet. We are doing this all in Lethbridge with the infrastructure we have. We hope to continue to do so in the years and decades to come so that Lethbridge remains in the Canada and world map as a leader in Quantum Technology!”
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