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First Quantum Cryptographic Data Network Demonstrated

August 30th, 2006

A joint collaboration between Northwestern University and BBN Technologies of Cambridge, Mass., has led to the first demonstration of a truly quantum cryptographic data network. By integrating quantum noise protected data encryption with Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), the researchers have developed a complete data communication system with extraordinary resilience to eavesdropping.

“The volume and type of sensitive information being transmitted over data networks continues to grow at a remarkable pace,” said Prem Kumar, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Northwestern´s Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and co-principal investigator on the project. “New cryptographic methods are needed to continue ensuring that the privacy and safety of each user´s information is secure.”

Kumar´s research team recently demonstrated a new way of encrypting data that relies on both traditional algorithms and on physical principles. This QDE method, called AlphaEta, makes use of the inherent and irreducible quantum noise in laser light to enhance the security of the system and makes eavesdropping much more difficult. Unlike most other physical encryption methods, AlphaEta maintains performance on par with traditional optical communications links and is compatible with standard fiber optical networks.Read Full Story

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