The world’s first quantum encryption computer network has been expanded to include a wireless link that uses quantum communications codes.

Most modern cryptography rests upon the difficulty of solving very complex mathematical problems used to encrypt data. This makes it theoretically vulnerable to being hacked using dramatic mathematical or computing breakthroughs. By contrast, quantum cryptography near guarantees communications security, using quirks of quantum physics to thwart eavesdropping attempts.

The wireless connection was added to the DARPA Quantum Network, a quantum fibre-optic network buried beneath the ground in Massachusetts, US. The network was built by US company BBN Technologies with funding from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It now links 10 different sites, including BBN’s offices, Harvard University and Boston University.

The wireless connection was installed by UK defence research company QinetiQ. Brian Lowans, at QinetiQ says introducing the wireless link represents a “critical first step toward global networks protected by quantum cryptography”.

Will Knight

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