In a major step forward for quantum technology, the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago recently announced they had completed successful tests on what they call a “quantum loop,” which serves as a precursor for what may one day be a national quantum internet.

While most are familiar with the zeroes and ones required for digital computing, quantum technology is the manipulation of neutrons, photons, electrons and protons to perform tasks. Scientists say the technology will have major implications across the board.

“We think this is the next wave,” said Paul Dabbar, undersecretary for science at the Department of Energy.

Quantum technologies offer the United States three major potential applications, he said during a phone call with reporters. Those include computing, communications and sensing. All will be particularly meaningful for security.

During the quantum loop experiment, Argonne and the University of Chicago — working alongside an industry partner called Qubitekk — built a single photon source of entangled particles that was shot out into an existing fiber network in the Chicago suburbs on separate paths 26 miles in length, said David Awschalom, Argonne’s senior scientist who also serves as the quantum information science group leader at the University of Chicago and director of the Chicago Quantum Exchange.

Once the photons returned, scientists studied their measurements to see how robustly they were entangled, he said.

“We want to make sure that those two photons are still entangled,” he said. “We measure how carefully they are [entangled] and we’re going to extend this from platform-to-platform as the basis for a national network.”

Read more at National Defense Magazine.