China claims ‘world record’ in quantum communications (QSDC); Said data transmitted safely over 100 km

Beijing’s ambition to revolutionize quantum communication appears to be succeeding, as Chinese scientists claim to have set a world record for the longest quantum secure direct communication (QSDC), transferring information securely over 100 km (62 miles)

Long Guilu, the developer of the quantum-based secure direct communication technology, and his team announced they had achieved a new distance record by securely transmitting data over 100 km (62 miles), SCMP reported.

The observations were published in the journal Light: Science & Applications in early April in an article titled “Realization of quantum secure direct communication over 100 Km fiber with time-bin and phase quantum states.”

Although transmission speeds are slow (0.54 bits per second), the document notes that this is a major improvement over Long’s previous record of 18.5 km set in 2020, two decades later. having designed the device capable of identifying and preventing eavesdropping threats.

Long, a professor of physics at Tsinghua University and vice president of the Beijing Academy of Quantum Information Sciences, noted the transmission speeds, saying they were good enough for phone calls and text messages at about 30 km.

He said the technology was ready to be integrated with standard encryption techniques to create a secure network with traditional relay points.

“If we replace parts of the Internet today, where more and more eavesdropping attacks are occurring, with quantum channels, those parts will have the added ability to detect and prevent eavesdropping, which will make communication even safer,” Long added.

A bank account password, for example, could be securely communicated between two devices 90 km apart using three 30 km quantum channels connected by two relay points and protected by encryption, according to Long.

The most notable aspect is that any eavesdropping attempt during quantum transmission would be flagged, while information at relay points would be protected by conventional encryption.

“Experience shows that direct quantum secure long-distance communication via fiber is feasible with current technology,” the team noted, adding that the technique also has “great potential” for securing 6G technology.

The longest QSDC distance published before this breakthrough was 18.5 km. “Rapid advances in quantum computing are raising anxiety about the security of these traditional communications,” the Chinese quantum team wrote.

Advances in quantum communication in China

China has made progress in the industrial use of quantum technology. In recent years, it has achieved several quantum technological breakthroughs, such as the world’s first quantum satellite, a 2,000 km quantum communication line between Beijing and Shanghai, and the world’s first prototype optical quantum computing machine.

Additionally, one of Beijing’s goals for its 14th Five-Year Plan, which ends in 2025, is to establish a cross-city quantum demonstration network based on secure relays. In November last year, the goal was also integrated into the city’s international science and technology innovation center team in the construction plans.

Although it is unclear how far Chinese researchers have further advanced in quantum computing, the Pentagon 2021 report in Congress on China declares that China “continues its quest for leadership in key technologies with significant military potential”.

According to the scientific journal Nature, the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei conducted the first “definitive demonstration” of using quantum mechanics for calculations that would be “prohibitively slow on classical computers” in 2020.

Although there have been no reports of military use, experts believe the technology could be used by China’s armed forces in the future. Quantum could help detect submarines and stealth aircraft among other “military vehicles”, said Heather West, senior research analyst at market research firm IDC in the US state of Massachusetts. Quantum computing can crack “classic algorithms” to verify another country’s military, she said. Told VOA.

China has already involved other countries in combining civilian and military assets in a development of military-civilian fusion Strategymaking it difficult for the rest of the world to predict when academic research will become a valuable resource for the People’s Liberation Army.

Distribution of quantum keys via satellite – DLR Institute for Communications and Navigation, Germany

Meanwhile, other countries are also working in this area. Quantum computing is included in the AUKUS military technology sharing agreement between Australia, the UK and the US, which was unveiled in September last year.

According to to the National Defense Industrial Association, the White House, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy said in August 2020 that they would award $625 million over five years for quantum R&D.

Quantum computing and quantum communication are still in their early stages of development. For many years, none of this research will have any practical application. However, quantum technology has significant geopolitical implications: fully functional quantum networks could provide tamper-proof communication channels, and a powerful quantum computer could theoretically overcome most encryption used to protect email and internet operations.


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