URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The University of Illinois’ Grainger College of Engineering launched the world’s first public quantum network this weekend at the Urbana Free Library. 

The network’s link will send photons through fiber optic cables from the labs on U of I’s campus to the library.  The goal is to make quantum information more accessible to everybody for secure communication with quantum computers.

Physics Professor Paul Kwiat hopes public use will further advance the technology through new applications. 

“We’re now trying to understand, well, what are the possible applications of that?” he said. “So just like the applications of the phone were mostly not invented by the people who invented the phone — they were invented by a whole bunch of other people who said, ‘oh, I can use that to order food or to check the weather’ — similarly, many applications of the quantum network will come from other people, other than quantum scientists.”

Another U of I professor described it as the “telegraph stage.” Kwait and fellow Physics Professor Gina Lorenz shared more about the quantum network on The Morning Show.

The technology is in its early stages of development, but it is open to the public.