Chinese Scientists Test Prototype of Quantum Network Using Drones

Entangled photons were sent between two drones hovering a kilometer apart, demonstrating technology that could become the building block of the quantum Internet.

Scientists have used octocopters to send quantum-coupled photons over long distances. In an article published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the researchers describe the sending of entangled particles from one drone to another and from the drone to the ground.

Entangled photons used to be carried over 1,000 kilometers between a satellite and ground stations, but now Zhengda Xie of Nanjing University in China and his colleagues have shown that communication can be established over shorter distances using relatively inexpensive equipment.

In a new study, scientists used two drones to transmit photons. The generator, essentially a laser, created pairs of entangled particles on one drone, sending one group of particles to a station on the ground and a second to another drone. This device transmitted the received particle to the second station one kilometer from the first.

The researchers speculate that moving the drones higher will allow photons to be transmitted over distances of up to 300 km. This work is the first in which entangled particles are sent between two moving devices.

Drones are easy to navigate, launch is quick and cheap, so in the future it is planned to create entire squadrons of drones to provide a global quantum Internet.

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