The Department of Energy on Thursday unveiled a strategy for developing a national quantum internet that would provide significant enhancements to the transmission and security of information.

One of the key features of a quantum internet is that that information being transmitted on networks is “exceedingly difficult to eavesdrop on,” making them “virtually unhackable networks,” the DoE said. These networks could also have the advantage of enabling the rapid transmission of more data, it also said.

The department says a prototype quantum internet could be built within the next 10 years.

The announcement was made in Chicago where scientists from the department’s Argonne National Laboratory and the Univ. of Chicago have already demonstrated a 52-mile quantum loop, one of the longest land-based quantum networks in the nation. The DoE said that network will soon be connected to the department’s nearby Fermilab to establish a three-node, 80-mile testbed.

The department also said that “creating networks of ultra-sensitive quantum sensors could allow engineers to better monitor and predict earthquakes—a longtime and elusive goal—or to search for underground deposits of oil, gas, or minerals. Such sensors could also have applications in healthcare and imaging.”

The new blueprint follows the National Quantum Initiative Act, which was signed by President Trump in 2018, and calls for a program to establish goals and priorities over the next 10 years to accelerate the development of quantum information science and technology applications.