European technology behind latest IoT quantum chip

July 24, 2017 // By Nick Flaherty
A 5 x 5mm quantum random number generator
Technology from ID Quantique (IDQ) in Switzerland is at the heart of a low cost quantum random number generator (QRNG) being commercialised by SK Telecom.

The 5 x 5mm chip is used to provide enhance security in applications in the Internet of Things (IoT) such as autonomous vehicles, drones and smart devices. Although the Korean telecoms operator hasn't given the price of each chip, the company said that it will be the lowest price ever for a QRNG.

It uses micro machined MEMS structures to trap ions that use quantum interactions to produce true random numbers through an entropy source and Deterministic Random Bit Generator (DRBG).

SK Telecom has invested just over $2m into IDQ which holds major patents for QRNG and has acquired exclusive rights to use IDQ’s patents. Random numbers are a vital element in current encryption algorithms, and are often generated in software by a pseudo random number generator (PRNG) or using features in a chip with physically unclonable functions (PUF).

SK Telecom is also developing a QRNG in the form of USB and PCIe using the chip. This will make it easier to add genuine random numbers to existing system designs.

“Understanding the importance of data and data security, SK Telecom has focused on developing quantum cryptography technologies to guarantee secure transmission of data in areas including artificial intelligence (AI), IoT and autonomous driving,” said Park Jin-hyo, Senior Vice President and Head of Network R&D Centre of SK Telecom. “We will continue to work with partners, both home and abroad, to accelerate the popularization of quantum cryptography and strengthen our presence in the global market.”

IDQ, which was established in 2001, was the first company to commercialise quantum information communication and the two companies have also agreed to co-develop ‘QKD (Quantum Key Distribution’ technology. IDQ is also working with Hanover-based Keymile on quantum-cryptography systems for communications networks used by railway companies and power utilities. ABB in Sweden aquired the mission-critical networks business of Keymile for an undisclosed sum earlier this month. 

Keymile has been shipping an encryption card for its network access and transmission platform for over a year