A super-secure quantum internet just took another step closer to reality

Scientists have managed to send a record amount of data in quantum form, using a strange quantum information unit called qutrit.

The news: Quantum tech promises to allow data to be sent safely over long distances. Scientists have already shown that it is possible to transmit information both on land and by satellite using quantum bits or qubits. Now physicists from the University of Science and Technology of China and the University of Vienna in Austria have found a way to transmit even more data using so-called quantum trits.

Qutrits? Oh, come on, you just invented that. No, they are real. The conventional bits used to code everything from financial records to YouTube videos are electrical or photonic pulse streams that can represent a 1 or a 0. Qubits, which are typically electrons or photons, can carry more information because they can be polarized in two directions at a time, so they can represent both a 1 and a 0 . Qutrits, which can be polarized simultaneously in three different dimensions, can contain even more information. In theory, this can then be transmitted using quantum teleportation.

Quantum … what? Quantum teleportation is a method of data shipping that relies on an almost mystical phenomenon called entanglement. Entangled quantum particles can affect the state of the other, even if they are separated from the continents. In teleportation, one sender and one recipient each receive a pair of entangled qubits. The sender measures the interaction of his qubit with another that contains the data he wishes to send. By applying the results of this measurement to the other entangled qubit, the receiver can determine which information has been transmitted. 

Measuring progress: It is not easy to make it work with qubits – and exploiting qurits is even more difficult because of this extra dimension. But researchers, including Jian-Wei Pan, a Chinese pioneer in quantum communication, claim to have solved the problem by modifying the first part of the teleportation process so that the senders have more measurement information to transmit to the recipients. This will make it easier for them to determine which data has been teleported. The research was published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Dissuade hackers: This may seem rather esoteric, but it has huge implications for cybersecurity. Hackers can monitor conventional bits that circulate on the Internet without leaving a trace. But interfering with quantum information units makes them lose their delicate quantum state, leaving a revealing sign of hacking. If qutrits can be exploited on a large scale, they could be the backbone of an ultra secure  Internet that can be used to send highly sensitive government and business data.