Quantum encryption demo is another step closer to a quantum internet


Quantum encryption could put an end to internet data hacks and security breaches and is one step closer after a test carried out between researchers in China and Austria.

Ensuring security of data sent over the internet is an ongoing battle and increasingly important for manufacturers, installers and managers of AV equipment. So news from the University of Science and Technology of China, detailing how China’s Micius satellite has been used to send quantum-encrypted data, could be welcome, although unlikely to make an impact for many years. 

Using Micius as a trusted relay, quantum-secured images were sent between China and Austria. A secured videoconference was also carried out. 

The breakthrough makes the prospect of a quantum internet – enabling almost instant communication - one step closer but costs are still prohibitive. Micius was launched in 2016 and dedicated to quantum communications but with a price tag of more than $100 million (approximately €80 million).

In the recent experiment, the Micius satellite was used to transmit an image of Micius, the Chinese philosopher that the satellite is named after, from Beijing to Vienna, over a distance of 7,600km. Vienna then replied with an image of Erwin Schrödinger. 

Following the secure exchange a videoconference call was conducted between the Chinese and Austrian Academies of Sciences. The University of Science and Technology of China reports that about 2GB of data, including a 560-kbit quantum key, was transmitted during a 75-minute call. The call was also encrypted using AES-128, which refreshed the 128-bit seed keys every second.

The research was published in Physical Review Letters on January 19 and you can read the original article on the University of Science and Technology of China’s website.