US officials and scientists have begun laying the groundwork for a more stable “virtually unhackable” internet based on quantum computing technology.
At a presentation Thursday, Department of Energy (DOE) officials released a report that sets out a blueprint plan for the creation of a national quantum internet, using laws of quantum mechanics to transfer information more efficiently than on current networks.
The organization is collaborating with universities and industry experts on the technologies for the project with the goal of developing a prototype within a decade.
In February, scientists from DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago constructed a 52-mile (83-kilometer) “quantum loop” in the Chicago suburbs, creating one of the longest land-based quantum networks in the world.
The goal is to build a parallel, more stable network based on quantum “entanglement,” or the exchange of sub-atomic particles.
“One of the hallmarks of quantum communications is that they are extraordinarily difficult to eavesdrop on as information moves between locations,” according to the Energy Department release. “Researchers intend to use the feature to create nearly unhackable networks.”
The department said early adopters could include the banking and health services sectors, adding that there would be 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 statement added.
The agency’s 17 national laboratories will act as the foundation of the coming quantum internet, which has initial government funding.
“The foundation of quantum networks rests on our ability to precisely synthesize and manipulate matter at the atomic scale, including the control of single photons,” said David Awschalom, a professor at the University of Chicago and senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory.