As the number of hacks and security breaches rapidly climbs, scientists say there may be a way to make a truly unhackable network by using the laws of quantum physics.
To explore the concept, scientists are creating a network in the Chicago area that taps the principles of quantum physics to send information. Such a link could one day form the basis for a truly secure network, which would have wide-ranging impact on communications, computing and national security. The federal government estimates that malicious cyber activity cost the U.S. economy between $57 billion and $109 billion in 2016.
The quantum network, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, will stretch between the DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory—a connection that is expected to be among the longest in the world to send secure information using quantum physics. The experiment will “teleport” information across a 30-mile distance, as particles change their quantum states instantaneously rather than traveling between two points.
“This project launches the construction of a communications network based on the quantum states of matter, offering a fundamentally new way to create and securely send information,” said David Awschalom, an Argonne scientist and the Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago, who is principal investigator of the project. “We will build a national testbed to develop the science for engineering quantum systems and explore the properties of quantum entanglement, a phenomenon that’s fascinated scientists and the general public alike.”