Making the Quantum Leap Between the Huge and the Nano in Russia

The e-commerce market in Russia is not sitting around twiddling its thumbs moaning about sanctions or other trade barriers imposed on free trade

Sun, May 28, 2017
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Russia is embracing the joys of e-commerce
Russia is embracing the joys of e-commerce

Russia's e-commerce market has made quantum leaps thanks to foreign players like IKEA (Russia) who have expanded their online sales this April to serve the populations of Moscow, Saint Petersburg and surrounding regions, as well as a number of cities and towns in Siberia, the Far East, as well as Central and Northwestern federal districts. So far, more than 4,800 items are offered online. Clients can have their purchases delivered for 349 rubles ($6 at the current exchange rate) per unit of up to 30 kilos. Online clients can use Visa or MasterCard, as well as Russia’s bankcard MIR, which was launched last year. IKEA has been and is planning continued serious investment in Russia.

Today they have scheduled an additional $1.6 billion five-year investment plan to launch new stores. In 2016, IKEA started construction of its largest distribution center in the world located in Yesipovo in the Moscow Region. It has cost approximately $100 million and will start operations either end 2017 or early 2018. IKEA is not alone in their evaluation of the strong opportunities curve inherent in the Russian market. Other groups such as Auchan, Leroy Merlin, Ozon and other international and domestic retailers are also developing warehousing and distribution facilities across the country, capping the northern territories of Eurasia with its key trade channels.

E-Commerce is not the only area where visible progress is apparent in this land of bears, beauties and vodka. For instance, the first Russian quantum network appeared in 2013 with an operational communications line launched in 2014. This line connected two university campuses with a quantum channel. In June of 2016, the first "city" communications line between the two bank branches was launched, and in September 2016 Moscow State University connected two points with some cities of the Moscow region.

Quantum protected communication itself can today only be established between two dedicated points, and if the network has a complex structure, then the quantum segments of the network must be connected to each other by nodes with repeaters that use "normal" data processing methods and technologies. These "normal" nodes create security holes, which practically negates the benefit of using quantum lines for secure data transmission.

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To improve security for such “normal” sections of the communication lines, Russian specialists are using information encryption with the help of quantum keys on these "normal" sections. Using fiber-optic networks, two channels were built, one 30 and the other 15 kilometers long. On the first of the sections, the data encoding was done by photon polarization, on the second - in their phase. In the course of the experiment, the speed of generation of quantum keys in the first section was 0.1 kilobits per second, and the generation rate of a secret key suitable for encryption was 0.02 kilobits per second. In the near future, the generation rate will only improve.

The use of two coding methods within the same network makes it possible to use existing software solutions and platforms for data processing and encryption. This quite simply eliminates the need for banks and other users of quantum networks to develop new products, and enables them to elegantly integrate quantum channels into their existing telecommunications infrastructure.

Taking a further step into the tiny details, Russia has made some impressive inroads by focusing research in a specific area. At the Laboratory of Carbon Materials in Moscow State University, a team is developing new high-tech materials, consisting of only one element of the periodic table - carbon. Today carbon materials are widely used in electronics and as a basis for structural composites used in aircraft, space and industry.

Over the past few years and with increasingly rapid development, new types of carbon materials, the structural units of which have Nano metric dimensions are coming into their own. Some of the new materials developed in this laboratory prove out the properties and scientific basis for their practical use.

Among these new special materials are thin tubes of graphene, carbon nanotubes, large-area graphene films, spun graphene Nano forms (carbon nanostructures), and needle-like diamond crystals from which pyramidal diamond needles are obtained. The Laboratory of Carbon Materials has developed unique proprietary methods for manipulating these materials, along with specialized devices and instruments, including those for the ultra-precise processing of materials, optical sensors, Nano probes, and an almost limitless horizon of uses yet to be imagined.

It will be interesting to see how the shift in investing into Russia will play out in the upcoming St. Petersburg International Economic Forum this June. What seems to be apparent is that the politicized isolation of Russia by the western world has finally led to a very tangible operational shift to Eurasia and the Middle East.

As far as I can tell, it seems that from the Gulf States alone there may be agreements concluded at the Forum for an estimated $20 billion. This does not include the investment power from the rest of Eurasia, MENA, and those countries desirous of supporting free trade between independent sovereign nations.


Paul Goncharoff is Chairman, Disciplinary Committee, National Association of Corporate Directors, Russia

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