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Quantum Hard Drives: Their Implications

For years, Quantum technology has been an emerging but innovative field and this year, physicists have made ground-breaking discoveries that will allow for further progression in the industry. Physicists Lindsay LeBlanc and Erhan Saglamyurek at the University of Alberta in Canada have now developed an innovative technique to build quantum memories.

The method they have developed allows for storing delicate quantum information encoded into pulses of light. They do this into atoms of rubidium that are ultra cooled. This method works in much the same way that fibreoptic telecommunications does, light is communicated between two nodes, however in this instance the quantum photon particles are stored in an atomic cloud as opposed to fibreoptic which has to convert the data to more conventional formats. In layman’s terms, this discovery has given physicists the ability to create a hard drive storage using light beams as a source of data.

According to Lindsay LeBlanc, the Assistant Professor of Physics and Canada Research Chair in Ultracold Gases for Quantum Simulation, herself and her colleague Erhan Saglamyurek have developed a ‘new way to store pulses of light down to the single-photon level—in clouds of ultracold rubidium atoms, and to later retrieve them, on-demand, by shining a ‘control’ pulse of light’.

With the interest in being able to store quantum data efficiently, this discovery has numerous practical and unprecedented uses in the field- from securing communications to introducing quantum fibre optic internet. Quantum memories are an integral component to any quantum network as effectively they serve a similar role as a hard drive to a computer. The original experiment that was carried out involved storing short pulses of light in atoms with encoded quantum information in the light. The original pulse is then retrieved, and the initial information was then able to be accessed again. This method will improve many operations, particularly those that require high speeds. It also has less technical requirements than traditional quantum storage methods meaning it also requires a lot less power.

Undoubtedly this new scientific discovery has opened up the field of Quantum technology to be scaled up for future endeavours and has worked to further prove the physical applications of quantum research. According to the researchers this will be an ideal method of storage and distribution of quantum data.

The applications of this technology are just starting to be realised and so the coming years with these methods being utilised, the tech industry should begin to see huge strides from Quantum physics.