The development was presented by the US Department of Energy. As conceived, it will be a network-based either on quantum entanglement or on the transmission of subatomic particles. The peculiarity of the quantum Internet will be that it is almost impossible to hack.
The project became known at the conference of the US Department of Energy (DOE) at the University of Chicago. Officials have detailed a strategy for the development of the technology and believe they can bring quantum networks online within ten years. In their opinion, they will usher in a new era of communications and make the United States the leader of the “quantum race.”
“The Department of Energy is proud to play an important role in the development of the nation’s quantum Internet,” said Department Chief Dan Briett. “By creating new and evolving technology, the United States is supporting and expanding the field of quantum research”.
The new type of Internet is not intended to completely replace the usual: it will work in parallel – as an additional secure Network for some areas of science and industry and for ensuring national security.
The plan for its creation was developed in February this year, at a meeting of representatives of the national laboratories of the Ministry of Energy with scientists. They presented a development strategy based on the National Quantum Initiative Act, which was signed by President Donald Trump in 2018. This includes building secure quantum protocols and local area networks and then extending them across states with quantum “repeaters” that amplify the signal. Scientists also want to create quantum networking devices and ways to store and route quantum information.
17 DOE laboratories will be involved in the development. Researchers from the Aragonese National Laboratory and the University of Chicago have already created a quantum loop nearly 84 kilometers long in the suburbs of Chicago. One of the longest terrestrial quantum networks in the country is being created there.
The next step will be the joining of the Fermilab laboratory (National Accelerator Laboratory named after Enrico Fermi), together with which it is planned to create a three-node test stand with a length of almost 130 kilometers. “Decades later, when we look back at the dawn of the quantum Internet, we can say that it started in Chicago,” said Nigel Lockyer, director of Fermilab.
Paul Dabbar, US Undersecretary for Science, believes quantum networks will bring the country closer to creating a completely secure Internet. Quantum transmissions will be nearly impossible to intercept. In theory, encryption keys will be transmitted using qubits, when an attempt is made to break, they will begin to be destroyed, and then generated anew.
The quantum internet will also enable faster transmission of large amounts of data and the creation of supersensitive quantum sensors that scientists hope to use to predict earthquakes and search for mineral deposits.
The development is carried out not only in the USA. In China, between Beijing and Shanghai, there is already a quantum network with a length of two thousand kilometers, and in Europe, according to Austrian researchers, the Internet of this type may appear in five years.