Nick Peters ’00 recently received a 2012 Edison Patent Award from the Research and Devel­opment Council of New Jersey.

Along with three other sci­en­tists at the New Jersey-based company Applied Com­mu­ni­cation Sci­ences, Peters was rewarded for his work in dis­trib­utable quantum relay archi­tecture. He, with his team, developed a process of trans­mitting quantum signals through a fiber-optic network.

“I visited one of Edison’s labs several times growing up with my family and on school field trips to Green­field Village and Henry Ford Museum,” Peters said. “Like Archimedes, Edison was a leg­endary inventor, so it is a sur­prise and an honor to win an award named after him.”

The concept of quantum com­puting uses photons, the smallest unit of light, to encode infor­mation and transmit them over dis­tances. Com­puters based on this tech­nology can perform cal­cu­la­tions much faster than con­ven­tional com­puters. The problem, according to Tom Cha­puran, a senior sci­entist at Applied Com­mu­ni­cation Sci­ences, is the weakness of the photons.

In an interview recorded by the Research and Devel­opment Council, Cha­puran explained the team’s invention using a sports analogy.

“There is a tech­nique called quantum tele­por­tation that can take the infor­mation on a photon and transport it to a dif­ferent photon, in much the same way an athlete can relay a baton to a fresh athlete, who can then carry it around a track,” Cha­puran said. “What we’ve tried to do is take this idea and find ways to apply it to a prac­tical telecom network, and that’s what our invention is about.”

Peters expressed hope that this new tech­nology could be used to develop quantum-based security keys online, increasing the security of online trans­ac­tions.

“In the longer term, it could be used to make a quantum internet, con­necting quantum com­puters,” he said. “The sig­nif­i­cance of quantum com­puting is that it can effi­ciently solve problems thought to be intractable using con­ven­tional com­puters.”

Peters credited much of his success to the early work he com­pleted as an under­graduate student at Hillsdale. He said the skills taught to him at the college allowed him to con­tinue learning after his grad­u­ation. He also attributes much of what he learned to the research con­ducted for his senior thesis.

“Although at the time, writing a senior thesis seemed like a dis­traction from doing well in my classes, it has turned out to be one of the most valuable aspects of my under­graduate edu­cation,” Peters said. “The senior thesis process was a first intro­duction to what goes into pro­fes­sional science.”

Peters also talked about the role his father, Pro­fessor of Physics Jim Peters, played in his edu­cation at Hillsdale.

“My father, aca­demic advisor, and thesis advisor, Jim Peters, was my first mentor in life as well as in science. What I learned from him in the lab and classroom has had a huge impact on where I am today,” he said.

Jim Peters expressed pride in his son’s accom­plishment.

“I feel extremely for­tunate to have had Nick in my classes, in sub­jects that we love, to see him grow through the years, and now to watch him add new knowledge to his field,” Jim Peters said.