Science Foundation Ireland

Launch of Rotation Relay education resource

Rotation Relay

CONNECT, in partnership with Science Foundation Ireland and artist Ed Devane, has launched a new educational resource for primary schools on quantum communications.

Titled “Rotation Relay” the item has been produced in collaboration with the CONNECT team – Jerry Horgan and Deirdre Kilbane – at the Walton Institute in Waterford Institute of Technology. A public exhibition takes place on Thursday, 20 May at 7pm. Register here. Rotation Relay is part of SFI’s STEAM Art Collaboration initiative.

Artist’s statement (Ed Devane)

I am making a musical gyroscope, that can be controlled via a control interface. A gyroscope can rotate in X, Y and Z axes, and each of these rotational speeds will be user controllable. The different axes will interact with each other via LEDs and magnetic sensors to trigger tones in a sequence. This musical information will be transmitted as an encoded audio signal through a laser beam and received at another location. The project is an interpretation of various quantum states including teleportation and superposition and draws from the laser satellite communication that will be used by CONNECT when the technology matures.

Researchers’ statement (Jerry Horgan & Deirdre Kilbane)

Our research is on ‘Quantum Communications via Space’. We are looking to use quantum properties to secure and enhance the next generation of communications (data transfer) networks, which will include nano-satellites, or cubesats. These cubesats can be about the size of a pringles tube and which will be in a low-earth-orbit or about 35 times closer than the satellites traditionally used. As they are so close, they are also incredibly fast, and are actually faster than fibre optic over long distances, say between countries.

Security is based on two specific quantum properties, entanglement and teleportation. This is where two photons (little beams of light) are linked to each other no matter how far apart they might be and that information (data) can be sent across that distance by physically interacting with just one of them.

We are using the property of superposition to enhance the communications, by increasing the capacity of the data transfer. Communications networks currently use bits (usually ones and zeroes or up versus down) to represent data, with superposition the data can be in more than one position (think of a coin spinning on its side, you see both heads and tails at the same time) which can be used to represent more data at a time.

This is shown in the artwork, where the light represents the photon, which can be up or down, and left or right. The laser and speaker demonstrate the properties of entanglement and teleportation.


CONNECT is the world leading Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Future Networks and Communications. CONNECT is funded under the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres Programme and is co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund. We engage with over 35 companies including large multinationals, SMEs and start-ups. CONNECT brings together world-class expertise from ten Irish academic institutes to create a one-stop-shop for telecommunications research, development and innovation.

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