July 24 (UPI) — The United States on Thursday unveiled a plan to build a quantum Internet, according tomedia reports. U.S. officials and scientists say they will build a second Internet, parallel to the existing Internet, using the laws of quantum mechanics to securely share information and connect next-generation computers and sensors. Quantum technology attempts to harness the unique characteristics of atoms, photons, and electrons to build more powerful computers and other information processing tools.
The quantum Internet relies on the quantum entanglement states shown by photons, allowing photons to share information over long distances without a physical connection.
David Awschalom, a professor at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering and a senior scientist at The National Laboratory of Argonne, said the Quantum Internet project is a pillar of the U.S. quantum research program.
It is reported that the U.S. Department of Energy and its 17 national laboratories will be the backbone of the project.
It’s unclear how it will fund the project, and the U.S. Department of Energy has not disclosed how much it will fund. Paul Dabbar, the deputy energy minister for science, said the government spends about $500m-$700m a year on quantum information technology, some of which will be spent on quantum Internet construction.
Panagiotis Spentzouris, head of quantum science at Fermilab, said in an interview that more resources and clearer project structures are needed to implement the plan.
But the 38-page document only lists the research’s priorities and objectives, but does not provide a detailed division of tasks. Initial users of the quantum Internet may include national security agencies, financial institutions and healthcare companies that want to send data more securely, the researchers said.
Ultimately, consumers may also be using the quantum Internet, says Mr Spinzolis. Consumers, he says, have the potential to seamlessly switch between the conventional and quantum Internets when spending and sending messages, without necessarily knowing they are switching platforms.
Illinois Gov. J. J. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement that they expect the creation of a quantum Internet to have spillover effects on Chicago’s tech community, with potential economic returns.
In the Chicago area, Argonne National Laboratory has built an 83-kilometer-long quantum network that will soon be connected to the nearby Fermi Lab to build a 128-kilometer test platform.
In New York, Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory have built another 128-kilometer-long quantum network.
The Quantum Internet program is to gradually connect local networks across the country using fiber optic cables, satellites with quantum communications hardware and drones, Mr. Spinzolis said. But quantum repeaters that can amplify quantum network signals have yet to be developed, the researchers say.