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Researchers tested an underwater fiber-optic cable to pass quantum communications between Ireland and England. The fiber-optic network cable called Rockabill is the longest that was ever used to enable quantum communications underwater, running 224 kilometers between Portrane in Ireland and Southport in England.
According to Innovation News Network, quantum communications operate through particles of light that transmit data along optical cables in a highly fragile state, which means that the particles collapse if interfered with someone trying to manipulate or steal private data in transit.
Professor Marco Lucamarini from the University of York’s Institute for Safe Autonomy who led the research explained that quantum communication has limitations, in particular the distance it can travel: “The longer the distance, the more likely it is that photons – the particles of light that we use as carriers of quantum information – are lost, absorbed or scattered in the channel, which reduces the chances of the information reaching its target. This presents a problem when organizations need to send private information to other countries, where the additional challenge could be an ocean between the communications’ start and end point.”
The use of the underwater cable system is intended to reduce the chance of quantum information being lost. The link has very little time delay and therefore has a fast connection for sending and receiving data, which is extremely important for financial transactions.
Professor Lucamarini called this experiment “a truly exciting step forward in realizing the full potential of quantum communications and for the future of securing private data in an environment that is shaping the so-called “quantum internet”.
“This project also advances the real-world integration of quantum communication technology into existing global telecommunications and network infrastructure – taking it out of the lab into a ‘real-world’ scenario,” he added.
More experiments are planned to be carried out using the same cable line to pave the way for innovations in quantum communications, and the research team has expressed hope that in the future the services offered by quantum technologies can be integrated into standard communications for industries sending private data between the UK and Ireland.