Although some scientists expect a "quantum Internet" to exist in 13 years, its exact function remains vague due to the nascent stage of the technology. "To get to the point where billions of quantum devices are connected to the same network, where any connected device can talk to any other device, we'd be lucky to see it in our lifetime," says the University of Waterloo's Thomas Jennewein.
The groundwork was laid when Chinese physicists launched the first-ever quantum satellite to transmit and receive photon-encoded data. However, quantum information storage and efficiently transmitting quantum signals between nodes remain elusive goals.
Still, the potential exists for a quantum Internet serving as a specialized arm of the current Internet. For example, the University of Washington's Kai-Mei Fu says a quantum Internet could find use in potential quantum computing projects, especially when users want to avoid transmitting their information in a classical manner that could be prone to surveillance.
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