US Department of Energy announces quantum internet plan in Chicago

National

CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — At a press event in Chicago Thursday, the U.S. Department of Energy unveiled a blueprint strategy for the development of a national quantum internet infrastructure.

The National Quantum Initiative Act was signed into law by President Donald Trump in December 2018.

“The Department of Energy is proud to play an instrumental role in the development of the national quantum internet,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. “By constructing this new and emerging technology, the United States continues with its commitment to maintain and expand our quantum capabilities.”

Quantum internet uses the laws of quantum mechanics to control and transmit information, and the University of Illinois has been at the forefront of research into the technology, having entangled photons across a 52 mile “quantum loop” in the Chicago suburbs, establishing one of the longest land-based quantum networks in the nation.

That network will soon be connected to the Department of Energy’s Fermilab in Batavia, establishing a three-node, 80-mile testbed, according to a press release.

One of the hallmarks of quantum transmissions is that they are exceedingly difficult to eavesdrop on as information passes between locations. Scientists plan to use that trait to make virtually unhackable networks. Early adopters could include industries such as banking and health services, with applications for national security and aircraft communications. Eventually, the use of quantum networking technology in mobile phones could have broad impacts on the lives of individuals around the world.

“The combined intellectual and technological leadership of the University of Chicago, Argonne, and Fermilab has given Chicago a central role in the global competition to develop quantum information technologies,” said Robert J. Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago. “This work entails defining and building entirely new fields of study, and with them, new frontiers for technological applications that can improve the quality of life for many around the world and support the long-term competitiveness of our city, state, and nation.”

“Decades from now, when we look back to the beginnings of the quantum internet, we’ll be able to say that the original nexus points were here in Chicago-at Fermilab, Argonne, and the University of Chicago,” said Nigel Lockyer, director of Fermilab. “As part of an existing scientific ecosystem, the DOE National Laboratories are in the best position to facilitate this integration.”

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