Chicago Expands and Activates the Quantum Network, Taking Steps Toward a Secure Quantum Internet

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“The Chicago Quantum Network offers researchers unprecedented opportunities to transmit quantum information in a real-world environment and push the boundaries of what is currently possible with quantum security protocols,” said David Awschalom, Liew Family Professor. in molecular engineering and physics at the University of Chicago, director of the Chicago Quantum Exchange, and director of Q-NEXT, a national center for quantum information science research in the Department of Energy at Argonne. “This extension enables scientists from academia, industry, and government labs to collaborate to advance our fundamental understanding of quantum communication and develop a secure quantum internet.”

“While this network is impressive in its scope, it is even more important as an experimental testbed for how quantum networks can be used. We look forward to working with CQE to explore the development of quantum network architectures that connect sensors and quantum computers together in new, exciting and useful ways,” said Jay Lowell, Chief Scientist of the Disruptive Computing and Boeing Networks.

The rise of quantum computers represents both a huge opportunity and a fundamental threat. Once operational, they are expected to be able to fix the kinds of problems that are nearly impossible for ordinary computers and thus easily break the current encryption. In April, congressional lawmakers introduced the Quantum Cybersecurity Preparedness Act, which prioritizes rapid encryption and quantum proofing of sensitive information so bad actors can’t steal the data now and decrypt it. when more powerful quantum computers become a reality.


Scientists believe that quantum networks can rely on the laws of quantum mechanics to be made virtually ‘unbreakable’. Experts around the world have agreed that implementing secure quantum communication networks is one of the most important technological frontiers of the 21st century.

Hack-proof encryption can be done using Quantum Key Distribution, which is the quantum security technology that was enabled on the Chicago-area Quantum Network on June 6, 2022, in collaboration with Toshiba. Key distribution is an integral part of most internet security systems, but quantum technology can make it virtually impervious to hacking. In quantum key distribution, secret digital keys are distributed using quantum security protocols between parties communicating sensitive data. Quantum keys are sent through a network of fiber optics via particles of light, called photons, using the quantum properties of photons to encode the bits that make up the keys. Any attempt to intercept photons destroys the information they hold.

This type of tamper-proof communication has applications wherever secure communication is especially vital, including industries such as finance, defense, voting and others.

“We are excited to continue our partnership with the Chicago Quantum Exchange as trials begin on the network,” said Yasushi Kawakura, vice president of digital solutions at Toshiba. “It is paramount that we develop quantum-proof technology to proactively defend against quantum future threats.”

—This story was first published by the Chicago Quantum Exchange.

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