Speed of light: Toward a future quantum internet


Engineering researchers have demonstrated proof-of-principle for a device that could serve as the backbone of a future quantum Internet. University of Toronto Engineering professor Hoi-Kwong Lo and his collaborators have developed a prototype for a key element for all-photonic quantum repeaters, a critical step in long-distance quantum communication.

A quantum Internet is the ‘Holy Grail’ of quantum information processing, enabling many novel applications including information-theoretic secure communication. Today’s Internet was not specifically designed for security, and it shows: hacking, break-ins and computer espionage are common challenges. Nefarious hackers are constantly poking holes in sophisticated layers of defence erected by individuals, corporations and governments.

In light of this, researchers have proposed other ways of transmitting data that would leverage key features of quantum physics to provide virtually unbreakable encryption. One of the most promising technologies involves a technique known as quantum key distribution (QKD). QKD exploits the fact that the simple act of sensing or measuring the state of a quantum system disturbs that system. Because of this, any third-party eavesdropping would leave behind a clearly detectable trace, and the communication can be aborted before any sensitive information is lost.

Until now, this type of quantum security has been demonstrated in small-scale systems. Lo and his team are among a group of researchers around the world who are laying the groundwork for a future quantum Internet by working to address some of the challenges in transmitting quantum information over great distances, using optical fibre communication.

Because light signals lose potency as they travel long distances through fibre-optic cables, devices called repeaters are inserted at regular intervals along the line. These repeaters boost and amplify the signals to help transmit the information along the line.

But quantum information is different, and existing repeaters for quantum information are highly problematic. They require storage of the quantum state at the repeater sites, making the repeaters much more error prone, difficult to build, and very expensive because they often operate at cryogenic temperatures.

Lo and his team have proposed a different approach. They are working on the development of the next generation of repeaters, called all-photonic quantum repeaters, that would eliminate or reduce many of the shortcomings of standard quantum repeaters. With collaborators at Osaka University, Toyama University and NTT Corporation in Japan, Lo and his team have demonstrated proof-of-concept of their work in a paper recently published in Nature Communications.

“We have developed all-photonic repeaters that allow time-reversed adaptive Bell measurement,” says Lo. “Because these repeaters are all-optical, they offer advantages that traditional — quantum-memory-based matter — repeaters do not. For example, this method could work at room temperature.”

A quantum Internet could offer applications that are impossible to implement in the conventional Internet, such as impenetrable security and quantum teleportation.

“An all-optical network is a promising form of infrastructure for fast and energy-efficient communication that is required for a future quantum internet,” says Lo. “Our work helps pave the way toward this future.”

Source: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190128081143.htm

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Dubai’s Emirates in $40m partnership for world’s largest vertical farm

Dubai airline Emirates has said its catering division will co-invest in a $40m join venture to build the world’s largest vertical farming facility.

The partnership between Emirates Flight Catering and US-based Crop One Holdings will see the construction of a 130,000sqft vertical farm facility near Dubai’s southern airport Al Maktoum International.

It will have a production output equivalent to 900 acres of farmland and harvest 3 US tonnes (2,700 kg) of “high-quality”, herbicide and pesticide-free leafy greens daily when at full production, according to the announcement.

Emirates said the project would produce crops using 99 per cent less water than outdoor fields and its proximity to the airport would cut carbon emissions for transport.

“This investment to build and operate the world’s largest vertical farming facility aligns with the UAE’s drive for more agricultural self-sufficiency, a vision which began with the late HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE’s founding father,” said Emirates Group chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

“The introduction of ground-breaking technology at the facility also enhances Dubai’s position as a global innovation hub.”

Construction is scheduled to start in November and take around one year.

The first products will be delivered to Emirates Flight Catering customers, including 105 airlines and 25 airport lounges, in December 2019.

Crop One Holdings CEO Sonia Lo said the company was chosen after a 10-month search by Emirates.

“Our proven business model has demonstrated profitable commercial production longer than any other major vertical farmer,” she said.

Despite its seemingly inhospitable climate for farming, the UAE has a growing agricultural market.

New technologies that are less water intensive are being tested by several start-ups including Pure Harvest to grow crops including tomatoes, cucumbers and strawberries.

Read: UAE-based Pure Harvest closes $4.5m seed funding round

This comes as the government seeks to improve the country’s food security by reducing its reliance on imports from a current rate of 80-90 per cent.

Robert Anderson (Source: Gulfbusiness.com)

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Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium inks deal to source 100% renewable energy

Arsenal Football Club’s 60,000-seater stadium in North London has become the first Premier League stadium to source 100% of its electricity needs from renewables, after the club extended its supplier deal with Octopus Energy.

The deal will see Octopus Energy power Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium using renewable energy generated across an array of solar farms operated by the energy start-up firm.

The move follows a year-long trial at Arsenal which boosted the club’s use of renewable energy. Arsenal’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis noted that it was “important” that football clubs take steps in this area.

Octopus Energy’s chief executive Greg Jackson added: “The technology to create electricity from renewable sources is now so efficient, that we can offer ‘green’ energy to our customers which is cheaper than many ‘non-green’ tariffs. Being green doesn’t have to cost the earth.

“We have been delighted to work with such an awesome club as Arsenal, and are looking forward to continuing our partnership into the future.”

While the deal with Octopus Energy makes Arsenal the first Premier League club to switch to 100% renewables to power a stadium, the club has previously implemented various sustainability initiatives at the ground in Ashburton Grove.

The Emirates Stadium is fitted with water recycling systems, while all surplus or waste food is sent to an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant, which is turned into energy that is then fed back to the club. The use of voltage optimisation equipment and LED lights have also reduced power use by up to 20%.

Gunning for green

The club’s former midfielder Mathieu Flamini is also making waves in the low-carbon market, after revealing an eight-year secret plan that has seen him set up a market-leading biofuel technology firm in a sector worth up to £20bn.

The French footballer set up GF Biochemicals in 2008, and it is reportedly a leader in developing levulinic acid (LA) – a green alternative to oil that can be used in biofuels, cosmetics, plastics and food preservatives.

Elsewhere in the Premier League, newly-promoted Newcastle United is pursuing a “carbon positive” status and recently installed a combined heat and power (CHP) system at its own St James Park Stadium, to reduce the football club’s emissions by more than 390 tonnes every year.

On the back of Manchester City Football Club partnering with an energy storage company earlier this year, edie took a closer look at how the club incorporated sustainable business practices into its multi-billion pound transformation, in line with its rise up the Premier League table.

Matt Mace (Source: Edie.net)

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