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Depiction of a secure space quantum communications relay from Earth to the International Space Station
Depiction of a secure space quantum communications relay from Earth to the International Space Station (NASA)

Quiness: Macroscopic quantum communications is a DARPA funded program established in 2012 and managed jointly by the Information Technology Office (ITO) and the Defense Sciences Office (DSO). The objective of the program is to acquire the necessary advances to enable the creation of a comprehensive global quantum communications network.[1]

Quiness seeks to unify the accuracy and security of quantum communications found in laboratory conditions with the distances, environmental noise factors, and bit rates found in the modern telecommunications industry. The program seeks sustained transmission of secure quantum key rates of 1-10 GB per second at distances of 1,000–10,000 km. Objectives for investigators include decoupling bit rate from environmental decoherence, extending secure quantum communications through novel domains, such as underwater and through dirty air, and extending macroscopic quantum communications to novel applications beyond that of quantum key distribution.

Quantum communications have traditionally operated at low data rates because they relied on the transmission of fragile single-photon states which are extremely sensitive to loss and noise, and for which no high sensitivity, high efficiency, high data rate single photon detectors exist. As a result, contemporary quantum communications are limited to short distances and low data rates. In contrast, classical telecommunications are capable of extremely high data rates (measured in gigabits per second) and long distances (more than 1000 kilometers). DARPA created the Quiness program to investigate novel technologies capable of high-rate, long-distance quantum communications.[2]

DARPA Quiness: Macroscopic quantum communications

Novel approaches

Astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, mission commander, walks toward the Lunar Roving Vehicle during extravehicular activity

Astronaut Development and Deployment of a Secure Quantum Space Channel

Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment with the stereo camera in the background (NASA image number AS11-40-5952). This Retroreflector was left on the Moon by astronauts on the Apollo 11 mission. Astronomers all over the world have reflected laser light off the reflectors to measure precisely the Earth-Moon distance.
Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment with stereo camera in the background. Retroreflector left on the Moon by Apollo 11 astronauts

An international team of collaborators from the 2012 inaugural NASA Quantum Future Technologies Conference including Christopher Altman, Rupert Ursin, deputy director of Anton Zeilinger's University of Vienna quantum teleportation group, Paolo Villoresi, Colin Williams, Jeff Hunt and Vikram Sharma submitted an invited proposal to Quiness outlining a long-distance free-space quantum communications network from the Big Island of Hawai‘i to Maui, a change from the Canary Islands site that had been traditionally employed by the group to date,

Hawai‘i and its volcanoes offer the additional novel feature of an astronaut training facility on the volcano of Mauna Kea falling directly in the line-of-sight with joint Boeing–Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing observatory, a potential station for receiving coherent photon transmissions. The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems, an international space agency initiative between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), acts as a remote operations site near the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island where next-generation space suit prototypes and lunar rovers, augmented reality interfaces, in-situ resource utilization and robotics field tests are used to train astronauts and test new prototypes for the next series of manned lunar and Mars missions.

As Senior Research Scientist with PISCES and NASA-trained commercial astronaut, principal investigator Altman and colleagues proposed a novel demonstration of free-space quantum communications as secondary objective to the global network architecture. The joint proposal was the first time the two leading European groups involved in the first demonstration of quantum communications over a 144-km free-space optical path—Anton Zeilinger, Rupert Ursin—and the first demonstration of quantum communications over an Earth-to-space transmission channel joined with the fiber optics communications experience of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Boeing's PhantomWorks network and infrastructure, the continuous variable quantum communications expertise of Quintessence Labs ,[3] and the lunar and astronaut training facilities of the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems.[4][5][6][7]

The fully completed and deployed network architecture called for satellites linked to intercontinental fiber optics, free-space, point-to-point laser ground stations, underwater blue-green lasers between US Navy submarines extending to Boeing drones and high-altitude blimps, to form a comprehensive, globally linked macroscopic quantum teleportation network.[8][9] Satellite downlink to fiber-optic and free-space communications links called for routing through the PISCES next-generation astronaut training facility on Mauna Kea, where a free-space continuous variable quantum communications prototype would be installed and calibrated by an astronaut on analogue lunar terrain in homage to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's Apollo astronaut placement of the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment on Apollo 11.[5]

The team's submission was the one of the only entries to meet the stringent bandwidth and coherence requirements of the program, yet the initiative went unanswered as US funding in quantum optics took an abrupt downturn, leading to a reversal of positions that continues to present-day.[9][10][11][12][13]

US funding cuts

China has since taken the lead in accomplishing many historical firsts that would have been expected from the United States.[14][15][16][17][18]

Theoretical physicist and experienced DARPA and IARPA principal investigator Jonathan Dowling, early quantum technology pioneer and one of the founders of the US Government program in quantum information processing, discusses the circumstances behind the shift in Quantum Pundit: The Future Quantum Internet Will Have "Made In China" Stamped All Over It![19]

The photonic Quantum Computing in Condensed Matter (QCCM) initiative, led by American physicist Paul Kwiat, had collaborators that stretched from Austria with Anton Zeilinger to Australia with physicist Andrew Whit. We had what we all thought were great results; we submitted in 2010 a straightforward, essentially renewal proposal—but we were not funded, and neither was anybody else in photonic quantum computing.

The optical switches and transistors developed for the scalable optical classical computer found their way into the switches and routers and hubs for the fiber-optic-based classical Internet. The future Quantum Internet will also require the manipulations of photons at the quantum level—a quantum repeater is a device for transmitting quantum information over long distances. The quantum repeater is a small, special-purpose, optical, quantum computer that executes a particular error correction protocol. The future of the Quantum Internet is in photons—but the short circuiting of the development of optical quantum information processors in the United States means that the future Quantum Internet will have “Made in China” stamped all over it.

Jonathan Dowling

In an interview with Nature preceding the downturn that parallels later funding cuts, physicist Ivan Deutsch of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque states: “Anyone who hears about this is shocked beyond belief—the world leader in quantum computing having funding being terminated based on a technicality seems incredibly short-sighted.”

Breakthroughs from China

Science Magazine cover June 2017 announcing quantum teleportation breakthrough by Micius and Jian-Wei Pan's research group
Science Magazine breakthrough announcement June 2017 announcing quantum teleportation by Micius and Jian-Wei Pan

Satellite-based quantum communications

In competition that has forged its way ahead of the US satellite-based quantum communications program, a joint Austrian-Chinese initiative between the experimental physics groups of Anton Zeilinger and his former graduate student Jian-Wei Pan, known as Quantum Experiments at Space Scale, launched a quantum communications satellite in 2016 nicknamed “Micius” or “Mozi,” in homage to the Chinese philosopher's writings on optics.[20][21][22][23]

In 2017, China took an established lead with the first demonstration of secure quantum communications to a satellite, setting a new world distance record. In the June 16, 2017, issue of Science, Yin et al. report a new quantum entanglement distance record of 1203 km, demonstrating the survival of a 2-photon pair and a violation of a Bell inequality, reaching a CHSH valuation of 2.37 ± 0.09 under strict Einstein locality conditions.

Satellite-based quantum teleportation

The signal was transmitted from the Micius satellite to bases in Lijian, Yunnan and Delingha, Quinhai, increasing the efficiency of transmission over prior fiber optics experiments by an order of magnitude.[24] The group subsequently established a new world-distance record for free-space quantum teleportation.[25][26][27][28][29]

Underwater quantum teleportation

In the same year, Chinese scientists also demonstrated the first-ever example of underwater quantum communications—another explicitly defined objective of the Quiness program.[30]

First intercontinental quantum-secured video call

Together with the Austrian Academy of Science, the Chinese groups demonstrated the first-ever quantum secured intercontinental satellite video call on September 29, 2017.[31][32][33][34]

See also

External links


  1. Broad Agency Announcement: DARPA Quiness Macroscopic Quantum Communications. DARPA.
  2. Quiness: Macroscopic Quantum Communications. www.darpa.mil]
  3. Quantum Cybersecurity, Encryption Key Management. QuintessenceLabs. QuintessenceLabs, 2018-01-19
  4. PISCES Hawaii. Pacific International Space Center for Education Systems. www.pacificspacecenter.com 2018-01-19
  5. 5.0 5.1 Astronaut Development and Deployment of a Secure Quantum Space Channel Prototype at the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems. University of Hawaii (2018-01-11)
  6. Inaugural NASA Quantum Future Technologies Conference
  7. Christopher Altman (2015-04-06). Secure Space Communications, NASA-DARPA-NIAC-OCT
  8. Quiness: Macroscopic Quantum Communications. Federal Business Opportunities. www.fbo.gov. 2018-01-11
  9. 9.0 9.1 DARPA Broad Agency Announcement. Quiness: Macroscopic Quantum Communications. Defense Sciences Office DARPA-BAA-12-42 (May 15, 2012)
  10. Weinberger, Sharon (2009-06-03) research cuts. Nature News 459, 247 p.625–625 DOI:10.1038/459625a
  11. [http://dabacon.org/pontiff/?p=2336 IARPA Withdraws Funding From Major NIST Quantum Computing Groups (2009-06-09). The Quantum Pontiff
  12. IARPA Withdraws Funding From Major NIST Quantum Computing Groups The Quantum Pontiff (2018-01-26)
  13. Q&A With: IARPA Director Lisa Porter|work=IEEE Spectrum: Technology, Engineering, and Science News (2018-01-26)
  14. Is China the Leader in Quantum Communications 2018-01-18. Inside Science
  15. Hruby, Denise. Putting China's science on the map Nature 553, 7688 pages S24–S26. DOI:10.1038/d41586-018-00544-1.
  16. North Korea could have up to 60 nuclear weapons NextBigFuture.com
  17. China is opening a new quantum research supercenter Popular Science (2018-02-10)
  18. China building world’s biggest quantum research facility South China Morning Post (2018-02-10)
  19. Quantum Pundit: The Future Quantum Internet Will Have “Made In China” Stamped All Over It! Dowling, Jonathan. (2017-02-03) Quantum Pundit
  20. China launches world's first quantum science satellite physicsworld.com (2018-01-12)
  21. Micius Quantum Communication Satellite - Aerospace Technology Aerospace Technology (2018-01-12)
  22. [http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-37091833 China launches quantum satellite (2016-08-16) BBC News.
  23. The Race to Bring Quantum Teleportation to Your World WIRED (2018-01-25)
  24. Science 16 Jun 2017: Vol. 356, Issue 6343, pp. 1140-1144 DOI: 10.1126/science.aan3211
  25. Does China have thriving physics and cosmology fields the way the US does? | Christopher Altman, QuIST Project (2018-01-12)
  26. China is Paving the Way to Quantum Internet (2017-08-28) Futurism
  27. China Is Another Step Closer to Building a Quantum Internet (2017-09-29) Motherboard
  28. China has pulled off a 'profound' feat of teleportation that may help it 'dominate the way the world works' Business Insider (2018-01-25)
  29. Teleportation BREAKTHROUGH as scientists send information through WATER Martin, Sean (2017-08-29) Express.co.uk
  30. First underwater entanglement could lead to unhackable comms Powell, Devin. New Scientist (2018-01-25)
  31. Scientists Just Made the First Super-Secure Quantum Video Call Mandelbaum, Ryan F. Gizmodo (2018-01-12)
  32. Austrian and Chinese Academies of Sciences Successfully Conducted First Intercontinental Quantum Video Call (2018-01-12)
  33. Quantum teleportation breakthrough earns Pan Jianwei's team China's top science award South China Morning Post] (2018-01-12)
  34. Scientists Just Made The First Quantum-Encrypted International Video Call. McRae, Mike. ScienceAlert (2018-01-25)