NSF investing $12M in quantum systems to secure networks

MIT, Columbia and University of Washington researchers among those involved

NSF investing $12M in quantum systems to secure networks

Shayan Mookherjea, leading a team of researchers at the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues are now beginning an NSF project to develop photonic microchips that can transmit secure communications over conventional optical fiber through quantum entanglement.


Credit: Shayan Mookherjea, UC San Diego

While some are focused on threats to IT security posed by coming quantum computers, the National Science Foundation is putting $12 million into developing quantum technologies designed to protect data traversing fiber-optic networks.

The NSF will support six interdisciplinary teams consisting of 26 researchers at 15 institutions to perform fundamental research under the Advancing Communication Quantum Information Research in Engineering (ACQUIRE) area within the NSF Directorate for Engineering's Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) program. 

MORE: A very cool twist on quantum communications

The ACQUIRE researchers' aim over the next four years: engineer a quantum communication system on a chip that can operate at room temperature. Bulky gear and low temperatures are required in current systems. 

"A growing interest in quantum photonics and a new understanding of quantum physics and nanomaterials make this the perfect time to pursue significant engineering advances in quantum communication," said Dominique Dagenais, the NSF program director who coordinated the ACQUIRE projects, in a statement.

These researchers will lead the EFRI quantum communication systems teams:

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