The US Department of Energy (DoE) has unveiled a blueprint for a 'quantum internet' that will be "virtually unhackable" and will offer "a world of new possibilities and opportunities" to users.
DOE officials issued a report at a presentation last week outlining the strategy for building this system, which they said could be completed within 10 years.
The DoE's National Labs, in association with private sector partners, will develop the 'quantum internet', which will run alongside the existing Web as a parallel platform for sending confidential government and financial data.
Early adopters could include the banking and health services sectors, according to the DoE.
The blueprint document lays out four priority research opportunities:
- Providing the foundational building blocks for Quantum Internet;
- Integrating quantum networking devices;
- Creating repeating, switching, and routing technologies for quantum entanglement;
- Enabling error correction of quantum networking functions.
The internet as we know it today comes with a variety of security challenges. It was designed less for security and more for robustness. Quantum internet technologies, however, can change that situation by enabling the securely transmission of information.
To achieve this goal, technologies will need to exploit various features of quantum physics, such as quantum entanglement.
The quantum entanglement phenomenon enables particles with different quantum states to share a close relationship. That means if two particles (like photons) are entangled, the state of one can be known by measuring the state of the other. If those photons separated by an enormous distance, anything that happens to one photon - theoretically - instantly happens to the other.
If an attacker tries to steal or spy on the information being transmitted between two photons, it will break the entanglement, making it impossible to intercept the information.
In February, researchers from the Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago got closer to creating a quantum internet after successfully entangling photons across an 83-kilometre 'quantum loop' in the Chicago suburbs. The DoE now wants to connect that quantum network to a particle physics lab in Illinois, in an effort to build a 130-kilometre quantum internet test bed for the future network.
"Eventually, we will connect all 17 DoE National Labs as the backbone of the Quantum Internet," Paul Dabbar, Under Secretary for Science, said in a blog post.
"We'll also add in universities and private sector partners, working with a broad community of individuals and institutions with diverse and complementary skill sets. Together, we'll create something truly groundbreaking that will transform our lives."
Last year, researchers at Osaka University, Japan, also claimed to have made a breakthrough in the development of quantum internet communications using lasers. The researchers said that their experiments had demonstrated that it was possible to translate the information encoded in the circular polarisation of a laser beam into the spin state of an electron caught in a quantum dot.
The results, they added, could encourage further research towards the development of a quantum internet, eventually making it possible to quickly and securely transmit information in a quantum manner.
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