Amazon is growing diamonds to use in quantum networks

Amazon is working in conjunction with diamond miners De Beers in order to develop the precious stone under laboratory conditions to improve the speeds of quantum computing and networking.

The project will be overseen by the tech giant’s Center for Quantum Networking,  part of its AWS cloud service. For its part, De Beers’ Element Six division will be ‘growing’ the diamonds in the hope of improving the speeds and reliability of quantum networking.

Quantum computing is considered the next frontier in computing technology, offering a whole new way to compute that no longer relies on the binary systems that underpin all our current digital technology. And standard fiber-optic infrastructure is not fast enough to keep pace, so Amazon is hoping to solve the problem by utilizing the qualities of the much-revered substance. 

A network’s best friend

Quantum computing relies on the principle in quantum physics that subatomic particles can be in two places at once. With this in mind, quantum computers work in qubits rather than bits – i.e. rather than a piece of information being represented as either a one or a zero, it can be both at the same time. 

This means that in theory, quantum systems could be massively more powerful than even our best current supercomputers.

With quantum networking, various data centers around the world, such as those used for cloud storage or cloud hosting, could communicate and transfer data with one another at greater speeds and with better security too. 

The diamonds will be used to make signal repeaters to relay the information stored in qubits through networks. Element Six will be using a process called chemical vapor disposition (CVS) to deliberately produce diamonds with impurities that form around them. It is these impurities that are then harvested and used in the fabrication of the repeaters. 

Due to their hardness, they allow for more stable transmission than traditional repeaters, which are not stable enough given the sensitivity of quantum systems to disturbances and interference.

It is this sensitivity, though, that actually makes quantum networks safer, at least in theory. The mere act of observing the photons that carry the data in fiber optic cables through the network alter their state, which means a network operator can instantly tell from the interference that they have been breached. 

Element Six will produce 2 million of these diamond components a year. If successful, the project could represent a breakthrough for quantum networking, which is being held back due to the insufficiency of current repeater technology.

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