Government’s quantum science push moves forward

The government’s interest in all things related to Quantum Information Science continued this week with a couple contracts awarded to BBN Technologies  and HRL Laboratories.  First, BBN, was awarded an almost $3.5 million increment of a $14 million Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract to continue work on  military applications of quantum information science.  The applications and/or contract  is expected to be completed in May 2010.  BBN has won some $15 million to date in defense contracts for its Boomerang technology, which is in use by U.S. soldiers in Iraq to detect gunfire. Boomerang, which includes an array of microphones and sensors fitted on the backs of Humvees, can detect fire from AK47s and other small arms from about 160 to 320 feet  away and identify snipers within 15 degrees of their location, according to the BBN. Soldiers in a moving truck get visual and audio warnings of the direction of the fire, letting  them return fire or leave the scene.  BBN also operates DARPA’s  Quantum Network - the world's first Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) network. The DARPA Quantum Network employs 24x7 quantum cryptography to provide unprecedented levels of security for standard Internet traffic flows such as web-browsing, e-commerce, and streaming video, DARPA says. The DARPA Quantum Network became fully operational in October 2003 in BBN's laboratories, and has run continuously since. It currently consists of two BBN-built, interoperable weak-coherent QKD systems running at a 5 MHz pulse rate through telecommunications fiber, and inter-connected via a photonic switch, together with a full suite of production-quality QKD protocols, DARPA says Meanwhile HRL Laboratories received a $16 million increment as part of a $75.2 million contract for military applications of quantum information science. The firm focuses on advanced electronics, information and systems sciences, materials, sensors, and photonics.  

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