Caltech and AT&T present quantum networks R&D program at Supercomputing17 in Denver


Credit: Caltech

The Alliance for Quantum Technologies (AQT), founded by Caltech and AT&T in May 2017 in collaboration with national laboratories and industry partners, is presenting the "INtelligent Quantum NEtworks & Technologies" (INQNET) research program at Supercomputing 2017 in Denver (November 13-16). "The consortium will accelerate progress in quantum science and technologies by bringing together the strengths of government, academia, and industry in a basic science R&D framework," says Shang-Yi Ch'en Professor of Physics Maria Spiropulu of Caltech.

The INQNET program currently focuses on quantum networks and quantum machine learning. "Quantum networks promise to provide not only ultra-secure communication channels, but could prove critical to developing scalable quantum computing infrastructure," says, Melissa Arnoldi, president of AT&T Technology Operations.

To this end, the Fermilab quantum network teleportation experiment (FQNET) is being built as part of the INQNET R&D program. "FQNET represents a basic step towards improved entanglement-based networks," says Cristián Peña, the co-spokesperson of the FQNET experiment and a Lederman Fellow at Fermilab. "With NASA's Caltech-managed Jet Propulsion Laboratory, we are developing sensors to improve the efficiency and reliability of the entanglement distribution."

"We are looking forward to testing these technologies in the industry setting," says Yewon Gim, a senior member of the technical staff of the AT&T Foundry innovation center and an INQNET fellow. "At Fermilab with FQNET we're trying to push the next phase of instrumentation."

The INQNET quantum networks group expects the first phase of the FQNET project to produce results by late spring. "The plan is to build eventually a prototype quantum internet, first with nodes in the Chicago area and then around the U.S.," says Si Xie, a Caltech postdoctoral scholar based at Fermilab who works on the Large Hadron Collider physics and detector upgrades research program.

"We like the model for INQNET," says Joseph Lykken, the deputy director of Fermliab. "This is a model we know moves very fast. Labs are good for doing things on a larger scale. Industry can bring resources quickly. This can be a very nimble and flexible program."

"We're doing a lot of community building," says Soren Telfer, the director of the Palo Alto AT&T Foundry innovation center. "I already had three interns over the summer who did projects on quantum networks and quantum machine learning."

"INQNET interns both at graduate and undergraduate level are engaging on quantum technology projects and are rapidly very productive and extremely creative," says Rishi Pravahan, senior scientist at AT&T, who spearheads the INQNET program at the Foundry.

"With the infusion of expertise from AT&T, Caltech, Fermilab, and others, we are taking a fresh approach in developing quantum networks. We expect that our results will push forward quantum technology while at the same time addressing the greatest fundamental questions in physics," says Neil Sinclair, an award-winning expert on long-distance quantum technologies who has accepted an offer to join INQNET as a fellow with Harvard and Caltech.

Beyond the near-term demonstrator and benchmarking projects that could have an impact on industry early adoption, the INQNET program also supports a number of long-term projects tackling fundamental challenges in quantum science. According to Lykken and Xie, the INQNET quantum networks group is looking into the possibility of using the FQNET infrastructure to investigate the famous ER=EPR conjecture, which offers a theoretical bridge between the existence of wormholes between a pair of black holes and quantum entanglement.

"Everyone is extremely dedicated and working very hard to accomplish the program's goals," says Stacy Kusumolkul, the INQNET program manager at Caltech. "I'm really excited to be part of the starting phase."


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