Goal is to Build a Regional Scale Testbed

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a plan to provide $25 million for basic research toward the development of a quantum internet. 

Taking advantage of the exotic properties of the quantum mechanical world, a quantum internet holds the promise of accelerating scientific discovery by connecting researchers with powerful new capabilities such as quantum-enabled sensing as well as enhanced computational power through the eventual networking of distributed quantum computers.

“Recent efforts at developing operational quantum networks have shown notable success and great potential,” said Barb Helland, DOE Associate Director of Science for Advanced Scientific Computing Research.  “This opportunity aims to lay the groundwork for a quantum internet by taking quantum networking to the next level.”

The current effort seeks to scale up quantum networking technology to develop a quantum internet backbone that has the potential to interface with satellite links or with classical fiber optic networks such as university or national laboratory campus networks or the Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), DOE’s high-performance network that links DOE laboratories and user facilities with research institutions around the globe.

Preserving the fragile quantum states needed for effective quantum communication becomes ever more difficult as networks expand in size. The technological challenges to developing an operational quantum network of any scale therefore remain significant, including that of creating quantum versions of standard network devices, such as quantum repeaters, quantum memory, and special quantum communication protocols. 

The objective of today’s announcement is to advance strategic research priorities through the design, development, and demonstration of a regional scale – intra-city or inter-city – quantum internet testbed.

Important conceptual groundwork for the present effort was developed by the February 2020 DOE Quantum Internet Blueprint Workshop, sponsored by the Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) within DOE’s Office of Science.

Applications will be open to all 17 DOE laboratories, with awards selected competitively based on peer review. Total planned funding is up to $25 million over five years, with $20 million in outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations.

The full text of the DOE Laboratories Funding Opportunity Announcement can be found on the ASCR funding opportunities page.