Feature Topic: Quantum Communications: Research and Implementation Challenges

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Natasha Simonovski

Feature Topic: Quantum Communications: Research and Implementation Challenges

Thu, 08/01/2013 - 13:08 — Natasha Simonovski

When crossing the borders towards nano-level electrical circuits, engineers face new quantum phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement, which do not have analogs in the classical domain. Exploiting these strange quantum mechanical effects enables fundamentally new communications solutions which will revolutionize communication networks from the personal to the global-satellite scale.

Manufacturers and service providers in the communication industry place particular R&D emphasis on emerging technological solutions that may lead to practical applications and benefits. As an example of this, Quantum Key Distribution protocols now appearing on the market can replace theoretically vulnerable public key security systems. This is only the beginning of a new era of products exploiting quantum-based authentication, fingerprinting, and other security functions.

Quantum information theory predicts that the capacity, and thus achievable transmission rates, of quantum links can exceed classical limits. Recent successful experiments prove that quantum information transmission is possible over typical optical fibers used by telecom providers and over free-space links. However, to build entire quantum networks, the repeater functionality, which challenges the so called No-cloning theorem, has to be developed. We are currently making the first steps of a transition between classical networks and quantum systems. Both approaches will have to peacefully co-exist during the next decade; there is even some possibility that they may be able to support and enhance each other.

This IEEE Communications Magazine feature topic is intended to present to the Magazine's audience a concise, tutorial-oriented reference of the state-of-the-art, current and future research challenges, and trends for quantum communications. To achieve this goal, the feature topic expects original papers that survey emerging issues and the corresponding implementation techniques in quantum communications networks. Original research contributions are considered if the authors can present the results in a tutorial fashion that is accessible to non-experts. The submitted materials should not be currently under review by any other journal/magazine/conference.

 

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