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US officials and scientists have begun laying the groundwork for a more secure "virtually unhackable" internet based on quantum computing technology.

At a presentation Thursday, Department of Energy (DOE) officials issued a report that lays out a blueprint strategy for the development of a national quantum internet, using laws of quantum mechanics to transmit information more securely than on existing networks.

The agency is working with universities and industry researchers on the engineering for the initiative with the aim of creating a prototype within a decade.

In February, scientists from DOE's Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago created a 52-mile (83-kilometer) "quantum loop" in the Chicago suburbs, establishing one of the longest land-based in the nation.

The aim is to create a parallel, more secure network based on quantum "entanglement," or the transmission of sub-atomic particles.

"One of the hallmarks of quantum transmissions is that they are exceedingly difficult to eavesdrop on as information passes between locations," according to the Energy Department statement.

"Scientists plan to use that trait to make virtually unhackable networks."

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Category: Science