Posted in | Quantum Physics

Toshiba's Big Step Towards Commercialization of Quantum Cryptography

With the development of the world’s fastest quantum key distribution device, Toshiba Corporation and Toshiba Research Europe Limited’s Cambridge Research Laboratory in the UK have now brought the advanced security of quantum cryptography closer to practical realization. A key data distribution speed of 13.7 megabits per second has been achieved by the device.

The speed is almost seven times the previous fastest quantum key distribution speed: the 1.9Mbps that Toshiba achieved in 2016.

Fast Quantum Key Distribution Device (Transmitter) Credit: Toshiba

At the QCrypt 2017 conference, scheduled from September 18th to 22nd at the University of Cambridge, the details about the new device will be announced.

In quantum cryptography, bits are carried and then transmitted on individual photons, which cannot be read-out without introducing errors as evidence of the intrusion. Because of this property, it is now possible to test and ensure the secrecy of quantum keys.

Quantum cryptography recognizes secure transfers of all manner of confidential information, including genomic data and biometric data. However, practical application needs higher communication speeds. This is particularly true for secret communications employing a one-time pad cipher — considered to be the most secure method for data encryption known, which is totally secure from crypt-analysis.

Quantum key distribution refers to the process of producing a unique code key that is shared by, and known only to, the recipient and sender. Encryption of the message with a quantum key guards its confidentiality by converting it into an unintelligible form.

Toshiba recognize the enhanced quantum key distribution speed, the fastest in the world, by producing high speed detectors and electronics in order to register the photon signals, as well as new quicker methods for post-processing of the signals into a secret key.  The new methods comprise of realization of the error correction and privacy amplification steps in hardware, which overcomes the bottleneck in existing software implementations and significantly enhances the post-processing speed.

Our latest achievement is a big step towards commercialization of quantum cryptography. We are the leader in the field, and already applying quantum cryptography to secure transmission of genome data in Japan. Demand for secure transfers of confidential information is stronger than ever, and I am sure that quantum cryptography will play an increasingly important role.

Dr. Osamu Hori, Director of Corporate Research & Development Center, Toshiba Corporation

In 2003, Toshiba commenced basic research into quantum cryptography at the Cambridge Research Laboratory of Toshiba Research Europe Limited. In 2010, quantum key distribution at a bit rate exceeding 1Mbit/second was initially announced by Toshiba. Since then, the practicality of the technology in a number of field trials in the UK and Japan was demonstrated by Toshiba.

Toshiba will continue to perform research and development in order to increase the speed of quantum communication in order to support the commercialization of quantum cryptography in the healthcare, finance and social infrastructure sectors.

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