Most leading security standards (for example, Advanced Encryption Standard, or AES, and Rivest-Shamir-Adleman, or RSA, which are used to secure online communications such as payments on shopping websites) used in secure communication methods do not make use of quantum technology. As a result, electronic transmission of PINs or passwords can be intercepted, posing a security risk. To address these concerns, researchers created a silicon-photonics-based quantum communication chip that is 1000 times smaller than current quantum setups while still providing the superior security that quantum technology is known for.
The chip, which is roughly 3 mm in size and compatible with existing fiber-optic communication infrastructure, uses quantum communication algorithms to provide enhanced security over existing standards. It accomplishes this by incorporating passwords into the information being delivered, forming a secure “quantum key.” After receiving the information, it is destroyed along with the key, making it an extremely secure mode of communication.
It also takes up 1000 times less space than current quantum communication setups, which can be as large as a refrigerator in some cases and as large as an entire room in others. The small size allows for more secure communication technologies to be deployed in small devices like smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches. It also lays the groundwork for more secure online transactions and electronic communication. The chip, which operates at a wavelength of 1550 nm, contains amplitude and phase modulators that generate a series of quantum coherent states; information is encoded on a sideband of 1 to 10 MHz.
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