Unbreakable Quantum Encryption Progress Could Change the World of Data Storage

There’s a current theory, backed by numerous tests, suggesting the notion of storing data in quantum entanglement is something highly feasible, and researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) are furthering its potential.

In the past, storing data this way only lasted for a short amount of time before the quantum entanglement failed; normally in a matter of milliseconds. But now, the aforementioned Australian research team has found a way to multiply the storage time and hold data for 100 times longer.

Lead author Manjin Zhong said:

We believe it will soon be possible to distribute quantum information between any two points on the globe. Quantum states are very fragile and normally collapse in milliseconds. Our long storage times have the potential to revolutionise the transmission of quantum information.

According to their research, they can now store data through quantum computing for up to six hours at a time. The coherence time observed is long enough that nuclear spins travelling at 9 kilometres per hour in a crystal would have a lower decoherence with distance than light in an optical fibre. This enables some very early approaches to entanglement distribution (for example for quantum cryptography) to be revisited, in particular those in which the spins are transported rather than the light.

Our storage times are now so long that it means people need to rethink what is the best way to distribute quantum data. Even transporting our crystals at pedestrian speeds we have less loss than laser systems for a given distance.

What is Quantum Data Storage?

Quantum Information Crystal
Writing quantum information onto a europium ion embedded in a crystal. Image Solid State Spectroscopy Group, ANU

The idea of quantum computing is quite difficult to understand, but computer science researchers have been studying its capabilities for years. If harnesses correctly, quantum computing is far superior to the average computing we experience today on our laptops.

In July 2014, Microsoft released this video explaining quantum computing to showcase how the theory works. The video dumbs down the highly complex theory and explains it succinctly, splitting quantum computing and everyday computer science into two different subway systems.

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Storing data through this sort of computing offers unbreakable encryption, as particles such as photons of light are created in such a way that it naturally links them together.

Matthew Sellars, leader of the research team, said:

We have never before had the possibility to explore quantum entanglement over such long distances. We should always be looking to test whether our theories match up with reality. Maybe in this new regime our theory of quantum mechanics breaks.

Images from Australian National University.

Clay Gillespie a writer and reporter for many different platforms across the tech industry. He holds a B.S. in Public Relations from Ball State University, and freelances for different clients in technology and cryptocurrency. For more information, visit his personal website, claygillespie.com.