Scientists with the Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE) at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering announced today that for the first time they’ve connected the city of Chicago and suburban labs with a quantum network—nearly doubling the length of what was already one of the longest in the country. The Chicago network, which will soon be opened to academia and industry, will become one of the nation’s first publicly-available testbeds for quantum security technology.
The network is now actively running quantum security protocols using technology provided by Toshiba, distributing quantum keys over optic cable at a speed of over 80,000 quantum bits per second between Chicago and the western suburbs. Toshiba’s participation in the project makes the Chicago network a unique collaboration between academia, government and industry.
Researchers will use the Chicago network to test new communication devices, security protocols, and algorithms that will eventually connect distant quantum computers around the nation and the world. The work represents the next step towards a national quantum internet, which will have a profound impact on communications, computing, and national security.
A new 35-mile (56-kilometer) extension has built upon Argonne National Laboratory’s already 89-mile (144-kilometer) quantum loop, launched in 2020. The total network, announced today, is now composed of six nodes and 124 miles (200 kilometers) of optical fiber—transmitting particles carrying quantum-encoded information between the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Lemont and two buildings on the South Side of Chicago, one on the UChicago campus and the other at the CQE headquarters in the Hyde Park neighborhood. It puts Chicago at the heart of one of the largest quantum networks in the country and further solidifies the region as a leading global hub for quantum research.