Scientists are also exploring how the quantum internet could expedite the exchange of vast amounts of data. If the components can be combined and scaled, society may be at the cusp of a breakthrough in data communication, according to the report.
Finally, creating networks of ultra-sensitive quantum sensors could allow engineers to better monitor and predict earthquakes - a long-time and elusive goal - or to search for underground deposits of oil, gas, or minerals. Such sensors could also have applications in health care and imaging.
Steps toward building such an internet are already underway in the Chicago region, which in February saw scientists from DOE's Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois, and the University of Chicago " entangle" photons across a 52-mile " quantum loop " in the Chicago suburbs, successfully establishing one of the longest land-based quantum networks in the nation. That network, says the agency, will soon be connected to DOE's Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois, establishing a three-node, 80-mile testbed.
Nigel Lockyer, director of Fermilab says, "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. As part of an existing scientific ecosystem, the DOE National Laboratories are in the best position to facilitate this integration."
Creating a full-fledged prototype of a quantum internet will require intense coordination among U.S. Federal agencies — including DOE, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the National Institute for Standards and Technology, the National Security Agency, and NASA — along with National Laboratories, academic institutions, and industry. The DOE's report lays out crucial research objectives, including building and then integrating quantum networking devices, perpetuating and routing quantum information, and correcting errors.
Then, to put the nationwide network into place, the report outlines four key