Quantum breakthrough to enable safer online communication

September 04, 2020 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
New quantum technique for a secure quantum internet
A team of international scientists, led by the University of Bristol, have created a unique prototype network that could transform how we communicate online.

Revealed in the journal Science Advances, with potential to serve millions of users, an international team of reserchers have developed what is believed to be the largest-ever quantum network of its kind. This type of network could be used to secure people's online communication, particularly in these internet-led times accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

By deploying a new technique, harnessing the simple laws of physics, the researchers are able to make messages completely safe from interception while also overcoming major challenges which have previously limited advances in this little used but much-hyped technology.

Lead author Dr Siddarth Joshi, who headed the project at the university's Quantum Engineering Technology (QET) Labs, said: "This represents a massive breakthrough and makes the quantum internet a much more realistic proposition. Until now, building a quantum network has entailed huge cost, time, and resource, as well as often compromising on its security which defeats the whole purpose."

"Our solution is scalable, relatively cheap and, most important of all, impregnable. That means it's an exciting game changer and paves the way for much more rapid development and widespread rollout of this technology."

The current internet relies on complex codes to protect information, but hackers are increasingly adept at outsmarting such systems leading to cyber-attacks across the world which cause major privacy breaches and fraud running into trillions of pounds annually. With such costs projected to rise dramatically, the case for finding an alternative is even more compelling. Quantum technology has for decades been hailed as the revolutionary replacement to standard encryption techniques.

The quantum physics experiment has demonstrated an important step towards quantum cryptography between many users, an essential requirement for a secure quantum internet. Image courtesy of ÖAW/Klaus Pichler.

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