DC-QNet Research Will Work to Develop Quantum Network Infrastructure

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The inaugural quantum research consortium will focus on strengthening telecommunications infrastructure as quantum computing continues to advance.

Following the announcement of the formation of the Washington Metropolitan Quantum Network Research Consortium by federal agencies in June, experts working on the initiative said that fortifying U.S. communication networks ahead of the advent of quantum computing is top priority. 

Speaking with Nextgov, Gerald Borsuk, the DC-QNet executive director, said that a vast variety of fields could be impacted by the consortium's research, but the telecommunications sector stands to be the first industry to be safeguarded against post-quantum technologies. 

“DC-QNet has the potential to affect a range of industries and fields over time,” Borsuk told Nextgov. “However, it is fair to say that telecommunications will likely be impacted as quantum networks are deployed alongside classical networks for secure communications and precision time distribution.”

The research intends to develop quantum networks which will be initially deployed at the consortium’s laboratories. Borsuk explained that fully functional quantum networks are in the early stages of scientific discovery and estimated a five to 10 year timeframe of development.

He added that several areas of the quantum field need more substantial research to foster sustainable quantum technology creation. 

“There are several areas where new discovery, invention and technology are needed,” Borsuk said. “Bright single photon sources; robust quantum memories and their use in quantum repeaters; robust time synchronization methods and technology; emulation, modeling and simulation; transduction methods and techniques; and integrated quantum-classical architectures.”

The six agencies participating in the consortium are the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, the Naval Observatory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Security Agency, NASA and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory. Each agency will support and fund its own research efforts within DC-QNet.

Other efforts outlined in the press release include modeling quantum networks and infrastructure, developing high-fidelity quantum nodes and larger quantum entanglement research.

Use cases stemming from the QNet research will ideally provide a foundation for distributed quantum computing, sensor technologies and quantum clocks. 

Borsuk did note that the initiative will not directly work on the development of a viable quantum computer, a hot topic among emerging technologies.