Amazon Looks to Grow Diamonds in Bid to Boost Computer Networks

The artificial diamonds would be part of a component that lets the data travel farther without breaking down -- something necessary for quantum computing. Diamonds may wind up in AWS networks in a matter of “years rather than decades.”

Bloomberg News

April 5, 2023

2 Min Read
backlit aws logo on building

(Bloomberg) -- Inc. is teaming up with a unit of De Beers Group to grow artificial diamonds, betting that custom-made gems could could help revolutionize computer networks. 

De Beers’s Element Six division will be working on the project with Amazon Web Services’ Center for Quantum Networking, a unit that’s seeking next-generation ways to transmit data securely over longer distances.

Quantum networking uses subatomic matter to deliver data in a way that goes beyond today’s fiber-optic systems. The diamonds would be part of a component that lets the data travel farther without breaking down. 

Conventional signal repeaters can’t handle information in this form, known as qubits. Ultimately, this equipment could wind up in networks used by AWS, a provider of cloud computing services that accounts for the majority of Amazon’s profit.

“We want to make these networks for AWS,” said Antia Lamas-Linares, who runs the Center for Quantum Networking. She estimates the technology will be in use within “years rather than decades.”

Amazon handles a huge chunk of the world’s computing and information storage, so it wants to stay on top of any technology that may give it an edge over rivals Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

For Element Six, the hope is to find a new application for industrial diamonds, which are prized for their hardness and ability to work as a lens. Using them in quantum computing — a nascent technology that promises to make data more secure — could be a big opportunity.

Related:13 Companies Offering Quantum-as-a-Service

The widespread use of quantum networking would require a massive amount of components, including specialized diamonds. Element Six recently opened a plant in Oregon that’s capable of producing as many as 2 million units of such a component per year using a technique called chemical vapor deposition. 

A diamond is the solid form of the element carbon. Its crystal structure makes it the hardest and most thermally conductive material occurring in nature. Diamonds also naturally pick up a limited number of impurities, such as nitrogen atoms, that give them color.

Those impurities can be an asset with human-made diamonds. By creating gems with exactly the same impurities – and shaping them to align in the same way — they can work as repeaters in a quantum-based network.

Ultimately, they also could help quantum computing have a wider impact. Such equipment will be needed to connect computers that are based on the same technology, allowing networks of quantum computers — long the realm of science fiction — to become a reality, Amazon researchers say.

Related:Do AWS, Azure, Google, Oracle, Others Have Too Much Market Power?

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