The researchers entangled photons - i.e., where photons share their states even though they’re in different locations enabling a potential transfer of information - across a 52-mile network in the Chicago suburbs. The loop, say the scientists, is among the longest land-based quantum networks in the nation and seen as a foundational building block in the development of a quantum internet - potentially a highly secure and far-reaching network of quantum computers and other quantum devices.
A quantum internet, say the researchers, could significantly improve the security of communications and support dramatic advances in computing and sensing. Such quantum technology could revolutionize national and financial security, patient privacy, drug discovery, and the design and manufacturing of new materials, while increasing our scientific understanding of the universe.
"This is an important step forward in harnessing entanglement and building a network to help form the basis of future quantum communication systems," says Argonne senior scientist and UChicago professor David Awschalom. "We are excited by these initial demonstrations of distributing entanglement outside of a laboratory, as well as having a flexible communications platform that allows us to identify the challenges of translating quantum phenomena to the real world."
Originating at Argonne and winding circuitously in a pair of 26-mile loops through several of Chicago’s western suburbs, the network, say the scientists, taps the unique properties of quantum mechanics to eventually “teleport” information virtually instantaneously across a distance. In addition, the information should be extremely difficult to hack — quantum states change when observed, so the presence of an outside listener would actually change the signal itself.
Argonne plans to scale the network by developing a two-way quantum link network with Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory . Such a link could help to lay the foundation for a national laboratory-led, cross-country quantum internet.
To date, quantum systems, which are extremely sensitive to interference, have been mainly tested in clean, controlled lab environments. This experiment instead