Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NIST-led Research Shows Advantages of Quantum-Enabled Communications for Internet

NIST-led Research Shows Advantages of Quantum-Enabled Communications for Internet

In the Internet, laser light is used to carry signals to intended destinations. Such optical communications enabled the establishment of the global Internet and made broadband affordable. However, with the transmission of huge amounts of data, the optical backbone for global networks is approaching a "capacity crunch."

To help address this problem, NIST, University, and Joint Quantum Institute researchers demonstrated a potentially more efficient way of doing optical communications, which is described in Energy and bandwidth efficiency optimization of quantum-enabled optical communication channels, published in Nature's npj Quantum Information. Specifically, researchers assessed quantum-enabled optical communications, relative to current optical communications.

Researchers developed three different laser pulse modulations which were quantum-enabled, meaning they were intended to be energy and bandwidth efficient. In a testbed designed for this experiment, researchers transmitted these modulations, carrying messages with varying lengths of alphabetic letters. These were sent to a quantum receiver, which continuously estimates the reliability of messages and corrects errors in them. Researchers then assessed the three laser pulse modulations for message accuracies and energy and bandwidth efficiencies and compared them to current optical communications.

Researchers found that quantum-enhanced optical communications transmitting long messages showed significant advantage over current optical communications. Of the three quantum-enabled, laser pulse modulations, the one termed "hybrid frequency-phase shift keying" (HFPSK) achieved the greatest accuracy in terms of long messages and greatest energy and bandwidth efficiencies. Researchers believe this work can aid further development of quantum-enabled optical communication systems and a better understanding of the properties of the quantum measurement.

Released August 1, 2022, Updated October 28, 2022