What is IEQNET?

Quantum technologies, based on quantum superposition, quantum entanglement and fundamental quantum metrology, create new opportunities in powerful computation, unparalleled precision sensing capabilities, and distributed secure communications. In alignment with the U.S. National Quantum Initiative goals on quantum communication technologies, the Illinois‐Express Quantum Network (IEQNET), led by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), will develop and demonstrate operation of repeaterless transparent optical quantum networks designs in the greater Chicago metropolitan area. IEQNET brings together researchers from two DOE National Labs (Fermilab and Argonne) with academic researchers from Northwestern University and Caltech, small businesses (NuCrypt, HyperLight), and the INQNET AT&T/Caltech consortium. The INQNET consortium is linked to the National Institute of Standards and Technology Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED‐C), led by SRI International.

The IEQNET network includes existing Fermilab Quantum Network (FQNET) nodes and proposed university campus nodes at Northwestern university, both in Evanston and at the medical school campus in downtown Chicago, as well as proposed node at Argonne. The project will leverage existing conventional network infrastructure (Starlight) and experience from ESnet, the Energy Sciences high‐speed computer network serving DOE scientists and their collaborators worldwide, managed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The IEQNET quantum network will be designed to coexist with classical networks in the same optical fiber transmission system, and to be flexible to incorporate new components developed outside IEQNET (memories, repeaters) as their technologies mature.

Research Goals

IEQNET will perform research and development towards a conceptualized architecture for a metropolitan-scale network and progress on implementation of this architecture.

IEQNET metropolitan testbed
Proceedings Volume 11726, Quantum Information Science, Sensing, and Computation XIII; 1172602 (2021) https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2588007

Essentially, IEQNET is a metropolitan-scale quantum network testbed that demonstrates important quantum networks capabilities. It would have following key features:

  • Support multi-node, flexible, and resilient network configurations.
  • Support multi-users.
  • Coexist with traditional networks in the same optical fiber transmission systems and share the same DWDM network component.
  • Adopt a layered architecture and a centralized control.

Research Team

IEQNET is a joint research project among Fermilab, Argonne National Laboratory, Northwestern university, and Caltech. In addition, NuCryt and Hyperlight, as industry project partners, will provide quantum technologies required for a successful project.

Fermilab (Lead Institution)


Northwestern University


Quantum Tech Industry Partners

NuCrypt ( http://nucrypt.net)

HYPERLIGHT (http://hyperlightcorp.com)