Security Market Segment LS
Tuesday, 22 March 2016 16:47

‘Breakthrough’ technology to improve cyber security, says research team

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A research team at the University of Sydney is claiming a major breakthrough in generating single photons (light particles), as carriers of quantum information in security systems.

The team says its work resolved a key issue holding back the development of password exchange which can only be broken by violating the laws of physics. Photons are generated in a pair, and detecting one indicates the existence of the other – allowing scientists to manage the timing of photon events so that they always arrive at the time they are expected.

The collaboration involving physicists at the Centre for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS), an ARC Centre of Excellence headquartered in the School of Physics, and electrical engineers from the School of Electrical and Information Engineering and has been published last night in Nature Communications.

Lead author Dr Chunie Xiong, from the School of Physics, said: “Quantum communication and computing are the next generation technologies poised to change the world.”

“Among a number of quantum systems, optical systems offer particularly easy access to quantum effects. Over the past few decades, many building blocks for optical quantum information processing have developed quickly.

“Implementing optical quantum technologies has now come down to one fundamental challenge:  having indistinguishable single photons on-demand.”

 Dr Xiong said the research has demonstrated that “the odds of being able to generate a single photon can be doubled by using a relatively simple technique – and this technique can be scaled up to ultimately generate single photons with 100% probability”.

CUDOS director and co-author of the paper, Professor Benjamin Eggleton said the interdisciplinary research was set to “revolutionise our ability to exchange data securely – along with advancing quantum computing, which can search large databases exponentially faster”.

“The ability to generate single photons, which form the backbone of technology used in laptops and the internet, will drive the development of local secure communications systems – for safeguarding defence and intelligence networks, the financial security of corporations and governments and bolstering personal electronic privacy, like shopping online.

“Our demonstration leverages the CUDOS Photonic chip that we have been developing over the last decade, which means this new technology is also compact and can be manufactured with existing infrastructure.”

Co-author and Professor of Computer Systems, Phillip Leong, who developed the high-speed electronics crucial for the advance, said he was particularly excited by the prospect of further exploring the marriage of photonics and electronics to develop new architectures for quantum problems.

“This advance addresses the fundamental problem of single photon generation – promises to revolutionise research in the area.”

The group – which is now exploring advanced designs and expects real-world applications within three to five years – has involved research with University of Melbourne, CUDOS nodes at Macquarie University and Australian National University and an international collaboration with Guangdong University of Technology, China.

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Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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