Interview: Progress of the Pathfinder Project’s Quantum Communications Research

Below, from HPC wire, is part 2 of an in depth interview with Oak Ridge National Labs’ Raphael Pooser. Raphael leads the Quantum Computing Testbed project at ORNL. Recommend taking the time to read through from the source at the link below. Because Quantum is Coming. Qubit.

Q&A Part Two: ORNL’s Pooser on Progress in Quantum Communication

In brief…

+  Quantum computing seems to get more than its fair share of attention compared to quantum communication. That’s despite the fact that quantum networking may be nearer to becoming a practical reality. In this second installment of HPCwire’s interview with Raphael Pooser, PI for DoE’s Quantum Testbed Pathfinder project and a member of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Quantum Information Science group, he discusses the state of quantum communication research.

+  Pooser notes, for example that the lack of robust quantum repeaters remains an obstacle to creating a quantum internet while the use of quantum key distribution (QKD[i]) to secure communications is already in limited use both in government and industry. He also emphasizes, at least in theory, it is possible to create an unhackable quantum communication network, just not easy to do. Pooser also offers some thoughts on the quantum hype cycle – it’s not all bad, he says, and most companies have a realistic view of quantum’s likely timetable.

HPCwire: I know there’s been a lot of work in quantum communications to make it more robust and cover longer distance. What’s happening in that area?

+  Raphael Pooser: That’s actually a big area of research in our quantum information science group. We have three teams – communication, sensing, and computing. We found a lot of companies want to hear about quantum communications because they’re quite concerned with cyber security. At Oak Ridge we’ve even licensed products to startup companies that are specifically based around quantum cyber security. Quantum random number generators, for example, that we’ve licensed to a start-up so that they can build quantum communication devices are based on the security of physics rather than [classical] computational complexity.

+  Not a lot of people know quantum communication is a big area of interest to the US electric grid. So again, back to DoE, but not the science arm of DOE, but the power and the energy science side of DOE which is required to protect the electric grid. DoE is funding a lot of research at various national labs, [such as] Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and Brookhaven to study how to secure the grid with quantum key distribution (QKD). A lot of companies ask us about QKD. It’s one of the things, for example, Kaiser is interested in and I’ll talk about that next tomorrow as well [when I visit there].

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Source:  HPC wire.  John Russell, Q&A Part Two: ORNL’s Pooser on Progress in Quantum Communication…

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