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First quantum network for blockchain

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Toshiba and networking giant Ciena have demonstrated the first Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) for blockchain in metropolitan area networks.

The proof of concept can support 800 Gbit/s for mission-critical applications under real-world environmental conditions and provide quantum-secure links.

The research team demonstrated the ability of the newly developed QKD network to instantly detect and defend against eavesdroppers. It also studied the impact of realistic environmental factors on the quality of the quantum channel and used a QKD-secured optical channel to deploy and secure Liink by J.P. Morgan, a production-grade, peer-to-peer blockchain network. This is the first demonstration of QKD securing a blockchain application.

The work at JPMorgan Chase’s Future Lab for Applied Research and Engineering (FLARE) and Global Network Infrastructure multiplexed a QKD channel on the same fibre as 800 Gbit/s optical channels for the first time and used to provide keys for encryption of the data stream.

The co-existence of the quantum channel with two 800 Gbps and eight 100 Gbps channels was demonstrated on a 70km fibre, with a key rate sufficient to support up to 258 AES-256 encrypted channels at a key refresh rate of 1 key/sec. The operation of QKD and the ten high-bandwidth channels was demonstrated for distances up to 100km.

The proof of concept network infrastructure used Toshiba’s Multiplexed QKD System, manufactured by Toshiba Europe at their Cambridge base in the UK, and Ciena’s Waveserver 5 platform, equipped with 800 Gbit/s optical-layer encryption and open APIs running over Ciena’s 6500 photonic system. The tests were conducted in JPMorgan Chase’s fibre optic production simulation lab in the US.

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“This work comes at an important time as we continue to prepare for the introduction of production-quality quantum computers, which will change the security landscape of technologies like blockchain and cryptocurrency in the foreseeable future. We are proud to be at the front-end of developing QKD technology for real-world applications while partnering with industry leaders in the field, such as Toshiba and Ciena,” said Dr Marco Pistoia, Distinguished Engineer and Head of the FLARE Research group at JPMorgan Chase.

Steve Alexander, Chief Technology Officer, Ciena, added, “With more sensitive information being distributed across fibre-optic networks every day, robust encryption is of vital importance. As the quantum computing era approaches, research and development advances will continue to ensure the confidentiality of critical data as it travels over the network.”

“Ciena has always pushed the boundaries of what is achievable with innovative network technology. We were the first to achieve 200 Gbit/s encryption, then first to obtain 400 Gbit/s. Now we are the first to offer 800 Gbit/s encryption to the industry.”

“Based on the success of this project we now have a proven and tested method for defending against quantum attacks on blockchain,” said Yasushi Kawakura, Vice President and General Manager Digital Solutions Division at Toshiba America. 

www.ciena.com; www.toshiba.com

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