Australian scientists have made a significant breakthrough in developing an "unhackable" quantum internet, it was announced on Tuesday.
Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) revealed Tuesday that they have developed a new method of storing quantum data for long enough to share information around a new internet.
The team used erbium, a rare element which has unique quantum properties, in a crystal to increase the storage time of quantum memory by a factor of 10,000 over previous efforts.
Matthew Sellars, lead researcher of the study, said it was an important step in developing a viable quantum internet.
"The effort to build a quantum computer is often described as the space race of the 21st century," Sellars said in an ANU media release on Tuesday.
"Our work will allow us to build a global network to connect quantum computers.
"We have shown that an erbium-doped crystal is the perfect material to form the building blocks of a quantum internet that will unlock the full potential of future quantum computers.
"We had this idea 10 years ago, but many of our peers told us that such a simple idea couldn't work. Seeing this result, it feels great to know that our approach was the right one."
Researchers said that quantum memory offered the opportunity for quantum information to be shared via long-range and ultra-secure communications.
"At the moment researchers are using memories that don't work at the right wavelength, and have to employ a complicated conversion process to and from the communications wavelength," Rose Ahlefeldt from the ANU's Research School of Physics and Engineering said.
"This can be inefficient, and means they have to do three very difficult things instead of just one."
The work has been published in Nature Physics.