2022: Professor Winston Seah, of Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington, has been awarded a James Cook Research Fellowship in Engineering Sciences and Technology for research titled ‘Quantum Networking Algorithms and Protocols’
Professor Winston Seah received a doctorate of engineering from Kyoto University, Japan, and has been a Professor of Network Engineering at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington since 2009. Prior to his professorship, he worked in Singapore where he held various positions in universities and research organisations. Professor Seah specialises in the design and development of telecommunication networks for challenging conditions. He was one of the first to research and develop networking protocols for wireless sensor networks powered solely by ambient energy harvesting, providing solutions for when sensors are deployed for long durations and changing batteries is not practical. For underwater networks, Professor Seah was the first to propose the use of unmanned autonomous vehicles (drones) to form a reliable mobile network that could overcome the harsh underwater communication conditions.
The Internet has become the backbone of our society, transforming from a mere carrier of information to the source of information, applications, and services. The Quantum Internet, which is the network that connects quantum computing devices, is envisaged to enhance the Internet by connecting and providing access to quantum computing resources (think supercomputers, but better). The quantum internet is governed by the laws of physics and is unlike classical networks.
Classical computers encode information using distinct binary “0” and “1” values, called bits. The quantum equivalent, known as the quantum bit, has the unique property that it cannot be copied without being detected (unlike the classical bit), making it highly suitable for security applications. However, the inability to copy quantum bits also makes it impossible to use existing communication technologies, such as signal amplification. This incompatibility provides a monumental challenge to transmit signals over long distances using quantum bits.
Professor Seah has been awarded a James Cook Research Fellowship to improve networking protocols for the Quantum Internet, incorporating physics-based principles of quantum mechanics. The cutting-edge nature of this research means that very little is known. Professor Seah will begin with a survey of the latest research findings, followed by developing new protocols and algorithms for connecting quantum network devices. This timely research could uncover the networking potential equivalent to multiple supercomputers. The outcomes of this project are a potential game-changer for telecommunication research and technology sectors in Aotearoa and worldwide.