Several major companies are working on quantum computing projects, including IBM and Google. Amazon is also in the mix. The company opened the AWS Center for Quantum Computing last year and has offered quantum computing via Amazon Web Services since 2019. It’s expanding that work to what it says is an essential aspect of helping quantum tech reach its full potential: quantum networking. As such, the company has announced the AWS Center for Quantum Networking (CQN).

As with quantum computing, it’s early days for quantum networking. It will likely take several more years before researchers start getting the most out of quantum tech. However, Amazon has more resources than most to invest in the field.

Amazon notes that quantum networks will be able to connect quantum devices using single photons rather than laser beams (which are utilized in modern optical communications). However, along with enabling certain capabilities of quantum networks, there are some hurdles to overcome when it comes to using a single photon. Quantum mechanics limits the amplification of a single photon, which restricts the range of a network. “Also, the weakness of single photons complicates interfacing them with today’s quantum computing devices,” CQN research scientists Denis Sukachev and Mihir Bhaskar wrote in a blog post.

Researchers at the center will work on new technologies, such as quantum repeaters and transducers, to allow for the creation of global quantum networks. They’ll develop hardware, software and apps for quantum networks.

Among the potential applications of quantum networking is “enabling global communications protected by quantum key distribution with privacy and security levels not achievable using conventional encryption techniques,” Sukachev and Bhaskar wrote. “Quantum networks will also provide powerful and secure cloud quantum servers by connecting together and amplifying the capabilities of individual quantum processors.”