CHICAGO (CBS) —  The future of the internet is getting a head start in Illinois.

Unveiling a breakthrough in computing and internet technology, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, Illinois U.S. Congressman Bobby Rush, and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined Argonne Laboratories to rollout out plans for a quantum internet using quantum technology.

Quantum technology uses quantum mechanics as a driving force, defined as “a science dealing with the behavior of matter and light on the atomic and subatomic scale.” According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “the quantum internet could become a secure communications network and have a profound impact on areas critical to science, industry, and national security.”

Pritzker opened the announcement with references to the state’s history of innovation.

“From the invention of the zipper, to the development of the magnetic resonance imager, from the birth control pill to the nuclear reactor, from the original TV remote control to the first skyscraper from the invention of the cell phone to the first graphical web browser, Illinois’s world class institutions have been fertile ground for the exploration,” Pritzker said.

The governor added that the state partnering with the technological hubs shaping the invention is a great fit.

“We have an extraordinary technology workforce to national laboratories, more than 100 incubators and accelerators and world class research universities with global leadership in business engineering, and the sciences, Illinois produces 10% of all the computer science grads in the entire nation. Our tech startups produce the highest return for venture capitalists of any state. Innovation is in the DNA of the state of Illinois. Chicago, and Illinois are proud to once again, play an important role in building a better future,” Prtizker said.

Adding to Pritzker’s remarks, Lightfoot said the area’s history of innovation will enhance the blueprint that’s being developed.

“Quantum internet is not something that’s on every but the tip of the tongue of everyone, but I think we all recognize the importance of this moment and the power that it possesses to really change everything in the way in which we process information and also security on the internet,” Lightfoot said.

The mayor added the technology is paving the way for other branches of computing science.

“Today is about the future and how we as a nation will be taking the next steps in a new frontier on quantum networking, how we develop it, how we build it and how we bring it to scale, turning cutting edge problems like memory storage and signal control in the cutting edge technology. And in the process, broadening our understanding of quantum mechanics itself. If history is a guide, though, new technology doesn’t necessarily replace the old. It enriches what we already have at our disposal,” Lightfoot said.

The mayor added that a quantum internet will deliver technology to other sectors uses by people and companies around the globe.

“Driving science and industry, security, all at once, giving our city and the entire nation the edge in fields like quantum computing and cryptic cryptology and applying it to other faster growing, high demand fields like cyber security, which is critically important to our nation. There is no better place to do it than right here in Chicago,” said the mayor who also citied the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to take advantage of collaborations to fuel further scientific research.

“What this experience has taught us is that there is tremendous power in partnership and collaboration. And I’m confident that we are able to get one of these awards and become a hub city, we’re going to build on the collaboration that is already hard at work across our universities across our laboratories, our tech centers, our life sciences. This moment has changed Chicago, for the better. And we are well positioned to take advantage of this opportunity,” Lightfoot said.

“Argonne, Fermilab, and the University of Chicago have a long history of working together to accelerate technology that drives U.S. prosperity and security,” said Argonne Director Paul Kearns. “We continue that tradition by tackling the challenges of establishing a national quantum internet, expanding our collaboration to tap into the vast power of American scientists and engineers around the country.”

U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette added “by constructing this new and emerging technology, the United States continues with its commitment to maintain and expand our quantum capabilities.”

Earlier this year, Argonne scientists in Lemont and the University of Chicago “entangled photons across a 52-mile “quantum loop in the Chicago suburbs. That successfully put together one of the  “longest land-based quantum networks in the nation. That network will soon be connected to DOE’s Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois, establishing a three-node, 80-mile testbed.”

 

 

 

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