New platform opens quantum networking to everyone

News - 22 November 2021 - Webredactie Communication

Starting today, everyone can freely access Quantum Network Explorer (QNE) to experiment with quantum networks. QNE is developed by QuTech—a collaboration between Delft University of Technology and TNO—and specifically aimed at researchers, students, software developers and future users of quantum network applications. QuTech believes in the power of community and wants to contribute by enabling users from different backgrounds to explore and experience the possibilities of quantum networks.

Imagine it's the 1950s and you get the chance to play around with the internet in its infancy. This was the era when web applications (like streaming), the collection of web pages (the www), or even a common way to connect (like IP addresses) were decades away from being imagined. This is where the quantum internet is now. But there's a big difference: it's not a closed governmental project, but an open experiment, accessible for everyone with a modern browser.

The promise of quantum networks

Just like in the earliest era of the common internet, the future of quantum networks is not set in stone. Already there are some novel applications that will fundamentally enhance internet technology. One state of the art application, for example, is Quantum Key Distribution for untappable communication. The question is: what is the quantum networking game changer and who will build it?

QuTech believes that the most exciting applications of quantum networking will likely not be discovered by academics. So QNE is released in order to contribute to building a world-wide quantum internet community. So everyone can explore pre-built quantum network applications, and even program their own imagination to share with the world.

Graphical tool and application development kit

An easy-to-use graphical interface is built that allows everyone to explore pre-built applications without any programming. To enable the community of researchers, developers, and future users, a high-level application development kit (ADK) is also made available. This ADK allows people to program new protocols and applications for real quantum networks by themselves. New applications can be added to the QNE graphical user interface so others will be able to use these as well without the need to learn how to program.

Educational tools

Another major goal of the QNE project is to provide educational tools. The knowledge base will be expanded and already contains explainations about the basics of quantum technology and quantum networks specifically. Educators can readily design exercises and whole courses around the experiments section of QNE, because the whole website is open, free, and user friendly. An account is only required to save previous experiments.

From simulations to real hardware

Right now, the programs will run on simulation platforms NetSquid or SimulaQron. However, QuTech aims to make some of the quantum hardware available online. Earlier this year, already the world’s first 3-node quantum processor network was demonstrated.