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NIST and Naval Research Laboratory Researchers Report on System for Managing Quantum Network Experiments

NIST and Naval Research Laboratory Researchers Report on System for Managing Quantum Network Experiments

Today, optical networks use lasers to transmit messages. By comparison, future quantum optical networks will use much shorter bursts, with entangled photons carrying messages. Quantum networking promises such advantages as improved message accuracy and efficiency, and unprecedented security and computation capabilities. However, designing a quantum network faces challenges that differ from that of today’s optical networks. It requires experimentation with quantum protocols, models, and devices, and collaboration with multiple agencies.

NIST researchers have developed the software for a management system, called “Multiverse,” which will automate experiments on a quantum network testbed and will be deployed across multiple sites. NIST researchers, collaborating with colleagues at the Naval Research Laboratory, described this system in Multiverse: Quantum Optical Network Management, which was presented at the GOMACTech 2023 Conference.

The Multiverse system will manage experiments on the testbed and enable a realistic environment for a quantum network. The testbed includes quantum devices – such as photon sources and detectors – with varying capabilities. An optical layer connects these devices using predefined fiber paths and those provided on demand. These paths allow quantum devices to send and receive photons. Paths are selected based on such test criteria as path length, fiber loss, source power, detector efficiency, and resource availability.

The Multiverse system and testbed will be used to conduct three types of experiments:

  • Assessing the synchronization of the sourcing of photons, their entanglement, and detection
  • Measuring the entangled photons’ matching quantum state, specifically their matching polarization
  • Ensuring the light signal’s stability and purity needed for desired polarization of entangled photons

Researchers are considering quantum network design decisions that require test equipment that is not yet available or difficult to use. They are also developing simulations for evaluating advanced aspects of a quantum network.

Released May 1, 2023, Updated May 26, 2023