World’s first quantum encryption chip developed

Commercial chips developed in the South West can protect communications
9th March 2017

A team of researchers have developed photon quantum chips to provide chip-to-chip encryption security for the first time.

“The system we have developed allows information to be exchanged using single photons of light in a quantum state”

 

The researchers at the University of Bristol’s Quantum Engineering Technology Labs (QETLabs) have used standard semiconductor techniques to produce optical chips  that distribute cryptographic keys using the quantum properties of entanglement, superposition and the absolute randomness provided by quantum behaviour. This is the world’s first chip-to-chip quantum secured communication system.

“The system we have developed allows information to be exchanged using single photons of light in a quantum state,” said Professor Mark Thompson, Principal investigator. “If an eavesdropper hacks your transmission, they will collapse the fragile quantum states and the system will immediately alert you to their presence and terminate the transmission.”

Commercialising quantum

The collaboration with researchers from Glasgow and NiCT in Japan will ultimately lead to integration in every day electrical devices, such as laptops and mobile phones, and the team at Bristol has spun off a company, KETS Quantum Security, to explore the commercial applications.

“Our research opens the way to many applications that have, until now, been unfeasible”

 

“Our research opens the way to many applications that have, until now, been unfeasible,” said researcher Philip Sibson (above in picture). “The technology is miniaturised for handheld devices, has enhanced functionality for telecommunications networks, and employs cost-effective manufacturing to feasibly deploy quantum key distribution technology in the home.”

The work has been supported by the UK Quantum Communication Hub, part of the National Network of Quantum Technology hubs, demonstrating the next generation of quantum technologies. “As part of the UK Quantum Communications Hub, we are in the process of deploying these devices throughout the heart of the Bristol City fibre-optic network, allowing us to test out these ultra-secure communications systems in real-world scenarios,” said Dr Chris Erven at KETS.

The Bristol Quantum Information Technology workshop takes place from 5 to 7 April 2017: BQIT:17 | School of Physics | University of Bristol