Always an object of fascination and today at the center ofand maneuvers by world superpowers and hi-tech giants, physics and quantum technologies have also won their space at the Festival of innovation and science, scheduled in Settimo Torinese from 9 to 16 October. Fabio Sciarrino, physicist from La Sapienza University, who will participate in the event “The most bizarre physics” on October 15, talks about it.
Space is the last frontier (of cybersecurity)
by Arturo Di Corinto
Why is there so much interest in quantum technologies?
“There is a worldwide interest, which has seen a very strong acceleration in the last three years and which involves Europe, the United States and China but also large multinationals, with the aim of exploiting quantum laws to process information. This interest is explained by the fact that quantum laws lend themselves to many areas of application and that technology is reaching maturity for its use outside research laboratories ”.
In what sense?
“Just think of the computers we usually use and which are based on binary information such that the bit is 0 or 1. Here, with quantum laws it is possible to have more hybrid and sophisticated forms, which contemplate the coexistence of 0 and 1. We are now in the transition phase to move from preliminary results to increasingly refined results, but without a doubt the quantum laws open up new scenarios, with the possibility of applications of technologies in various fields, ranging from computers to communication “.
The first Quantum Computer Engineer in Italy graduated
by Luciano Lenzini
In these two sectors, the group of the physics department of the University of Rome La Sapienza which you lead has recently obtained two important results …
“Yes, first of all, however, let me say that Italy on quantum technologies has acquired very strong skills thanks to universities and research. My Sapienza group, in particular, uses photons as a system in which to write information. Our activities are financed by European and partly Italian resources. In particular, I coordinate the European Phoqusing project and I am ‘principal investigator’ of the QU-BOSS project funded by the European Research Council ”.
Returning to the experiments, what results did you get?
“We carried out two types of experiments: the first of cryptography and the second of quantum computation. With the first, carried out in collaboration with the nanophotonics group also from the physics department of Sapienza coordinated by Rinaldo Trotta, we sent single photons from one building to another of the university to achieve quantum communication. We did this for the first time using light emitters called ‘quantum dots’, which allow us to generate quantum states with unique properties ”.
Can you explain better the extent of this discovery: in practice, you gain greater security in the passage of the message and in the exchange of information?
“Yes. To understand how, it is necessary to take into account that the developed sources generate so-called ‘entangled’ states. And with ‘entanglement’ we mean precisely ‘entanglement’, a phenomenon that occurs when two particles, such as in this case two photons, being tangled together, behave in some way in unison. Here, these ‘entangled’ states guarantee protocols with an unconditional level of security. In other words, not even if the enemy were an alien would he be able to decrypt the message ”.
And with the second experiment on quantum computing what have you achieved?
“In collaboration with the group led by Roberto Osellame of the CNR photonics and nanotechnology institute, we have developed a prototype of a three-dimensional programmable processor to perform quantum computation based on a photon platform. To do this, we have created a chip where light propagates, a device that has the particularity of having three dimensions compared to the usual two ”.
Because it turned out to be a discovery particularly important?
“The quantum computer is currently one of humanity’s great challenges, comparable in many respects to what it meant to go to the moon in the 1960s. Many are working on it, including large companies such as Google and IBM, with different approaches. The great advantage, in this case, are the much faster algorithms that quantum computation offers compared to the traditional one for solving some problems “.
What about the next projects?
“In computing, we are building a new computing platform, called Qolossus, which will be hybrid photonics and will exploit the assembly of different technologies. While on cryptography we are working on extending the link to a network, thus increasing the complexity of communication “.