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Recently, the Department of Energy has released information about the strides they are making regarding quantum technology. The most exciting announcement is that research teams all over the country are working to produce an extremely secure quantum Internet that would run alongside the current network.
Quantum Information Technology is the process of using quantum mechanics to build new types of powerful technology that could assist in information processing and analysis. This type of science focuses on the physical properties of nature at an atomic level. In order to build these tools, scientists will utilize the properties of electrons, photons, and atoms. There are quantum bits, also known as Qubits, that allow quantum computers to process information. The difference between the bits a normal computer would use and qubits is that bits represent 0 or 1s, while qubits “can exist as zeros and ones at the same time, or in any position between, a flexibility that gives them the potential to perform many calculations simultaneously” (Washington Post).
When photons are in a state of “entanglement” they have the ability to share information regardless of the distance or lack of a physical connection. This characteristic is what makes the quantum internet a possibility. One of the reasons a quantum internet is one of the most exciting technological frontiers right now is because of the cyber security aspects. It would almost be impossible to hack into or steal information from quantum networks due to the properties of the molecules being used. According to coverage offered by the Washington Post, “any attempt to observe or disrupt these particles would automatically alter their state and destroy the information being transmitted”. Most likely, this new form of internet would be used at first by large institutions or agencies that handle classified information. Another use of the quantum Internet would be to connect quantum computers together in order to enhance their computing abilities and range.
A few early stages of quantum networks have been popping up throughout the country, such as New York and Chicago. Eventually, the plan is to link these networks together. This month the Department of Energy held a Quantum Internet Blueprint Workshop to come up with a set of goals, barriers, and steps towards producing a secure quantum internet. The project will be led by the DOE and their 17 labs within the U.S. as they race research teams around the globe.
If you want to learn more about quantum information technology, check out these resources:
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