The University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory have formed the Chicago Quantum Exchange and will work together to create an unhackable quantum network.
The network will connect Argonne to Fermi, making it one of the longest quantum networks in the world. The work will be supported by the US Department of Energy (DoE).
“This is the first time anyone has even planned to carry out a quantum network like this: a permanent, functioning quantum teleportation network at long distances in the United States,” said Fermilab deputy director and chief research officer Joe Lykken.
China made recent headway in the field when it launched a communications satellite in 2017. The satellite transmits information in the form of patterns of photons down to earth.
The US network will entangle two quantum particles. By doing so, a party at Argonne can affect one particle, which will affect its quantum partner 30 miles (48.2 km) away at Fermi. The information will be transmitted instantly, effectively teleporting.
The network, like the Chinese satellite, will use photons to carry information, eventually utilising an old 1980s fibre-optic cable network running between the two organisations.
If one of the photons is interfered with, such as being observed by an unauthorised party, it will affect the other photon it is entangled with. This is what makes the quantum network effectively unhackable.
“Quantum testbeds of similar scale exist around the world. But most of them rely on entangled photons to teleport information. Our testbed is unique in that, for the first time, we push towards an all solid-state architecture where trapped quantum particles in solids are used as information carriers,” said assistant professor of molecular engineering at University of Chicago and scientist at Argonne Tian Zhong.
A quantum accelerometer has been demonstrated for the first time ever by a team from Imperial College London and M Squared.
The accelerometer works by measuring an object’s velocity and how it changes over time. Using this, along with the object’s starting position, it can calculate the object’s location.
Current accelerometers need external references to maintain their accuracy over longer periods. The new quantum accelerometer uses supercool atoms, where the low temperatures cause the atoms to behave both like particles and waves. As the device accelerates, this affects the wave properties of the atoms, which can be measured to provide accurate data about how fast the device is accelerating.
“We developed a universal laser system for cold atom-based sensors that we have already implemented in our quantum gravimeter. This laser is now also used in the quantum accelerometer we have built in collaboration with Imperia,” said Quantum Technology Scientist at M Squared Dr Joseph Thom. “Combining high power, exceptionally low noise and frequency tunability, the laser system cools the atoms and provides the optical ruler for the acceleration measurements.”
The self-contained compass system provides an alternative to GPS-based modes of navigation.
Recently, Norway blamed a recent failure of its GPS system during NATO war games on Russian interference. Even if a nation state was not behind the outage, it still exposes GPS’s weakness to jamming or other interference. As such, it is easy to imagine that military and other security groups might find a less hackable navigation device highly attractive.
Putting microchips in a spin
Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have devised a way to reduce the energy demands of microchips by creating a magnetic version of a traditional transistor.
Applying a small voltage to an ultra-thin material such as a microchip can alter its magnetic properties. These changes are stable, remaining even without a constant power supply. This technique means that newer computing devices will consume less electricity than before and lose less energy as heat.
It works by taking advantage of a property of electrons called spin. This is the direction and frequency in which an electron rotates, with devices that take advantage of this property called spintronics.
The new method uses small hydrogen ions, which can move in and out of a microchip’s crystalline structure, changing its magnetic orientation each time.
“You can actually toggle the direction of the magnetisation by 90 degrees by applying a voltage – and it’s fully reversible,” said graduate student and co-author of a paper on the subject Aik Jun Tan.
The information in the microchip is stored according to the position of the magnet’s poles, meaning data can be written and erased using this technique.
Artificial intelligence has made some major leaps in the past few years, especially in the field of digital mimicry.
While a neural network creating images of surprisingly delicious-looking fake cheeseburgers is relatively benign, research was presented at BTAS 2018, a biometrics conference, that demonstrated how AI could create fake fingerprints.
The so-called DeepMasterPrints, which can fool scanners more accurately than traditional models, could be used as part of a brute force attack on a system, whereby multiple generated fingerprints could be run through a system to find a potential match.
Modern scanners are designed to be ergonomic, and so can only read small areas of a fingerprint. However, small regions of a fingerprint can share similarities from person to person, meaning a DeepMasterPrint can match with multiple different peoples’ fingerprints, without ever having to gain information about a specific individual’s prints.
“Without verifying that a biometric comes from a real person, a lot of these adversarial attacks become possible,” researcher and member of New York University’s engineering school Philip Bontrager was quoted as saying. “The real hope of work like this is to push toward liveness detection in biometric sensor.”
Blowing a raspberry
Scientists at Japan’s Nagoya Institute of Technology (NITech) have made a major breakthrough in neutralising toxic carbon monoxide.
Traditionally, converting poisonous carbon monoxide into inert carbon dioxide requires a noble metal as catalyst. These are expensive and difficult to source, increasing the cost of the convertor and consuming a finite resource.
The team from NITech have created a raspberry-shaped nanoparticle that is capable of oxidising carbon monoxide. “We found that the raspberry-shaped particles achieve both high structural stability and high reactivity even in a single nanoscale surface structure,” said assistant professor in the Department of Life Science and Applied Chemistry and first author on the paper Dr. Teruaki Fuchigami.
The raspberry nanoparticle uses cobalt oxide to oxidise the carbon monoxide. These are held together by sulphate ions. Small groups of cobalt oxide held together by the sulphate ions give the particle its characteristic complex raspberry shape.
He explained that while simple particles can oxidise carbon monoxide, they naturally will join with other simple particles, losing its oxidisation properties, especially in hot temperatures. The complex shape of NITech’s raspberry prevents this clumping.
This means it can operate under harsh circumstances, such as in high temperatures or during catalytic reactions.