NTU scientists develop 1000x smaller quantum chip

The tiny chip uses quantum communication algorithms for better security than existing industry standards.

Scientists at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have developed a quantum communication chip that is an incredible 1,000 times smaller than current quantum setups yet offers equally superior security quantum technology is known for.

Measuring just 3mm, the tiny chip uses quantum communication algorithms to provide enhanced security compared to existing standards. It integrates passwords within the information that is being delivered to form a secure quantum key. After the information is received, it is destroyed along with the key, making it an extremely secure form of communication.

The chip requires 1,000 times less space than current quantum communication setups that can be as big as a refrigerator or even take up the space of an entire room or office floor. This allows for more secure communication technologies that can be deployed in compact devices such as smart watches, smartphones, and tablets.

“Almost all digital platforms and repositories require users to input their passwords and biometric data, and as long as this is the case, it could be eavesdropped on or deciphered. Quantum technology eliminates this as both the password and information are integrated within the message being sent, forming a ‘quantum key’,” said Professor Liu Ai Qun of the unversity’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, who led the project.

Co-leader Associate Professor Kwek Leong Chuan likens the technology to sending a secure letter.

“Imagine that the person who wrote the letter locked the message in an envelope with its ‘key’ also inside it. The recipient needs the same ‘key’ to open it. Quantum technology ensures that the key distribution is secure, preventing any tampering to the ‘key’”, said the Physicist of NTU’s National Institute of Education.

Google, IBM  and Intel are among the technology companies racing to develop quantum supercomputers that would revolutionise computing. A key strength of quantum technology is cryptography.

“This is the future of communication security and our research brings us closer to quantum computing and communication. It will help spark the creation of next-generation communication devices, as well as enhance digital services such as online financial portals of banks, and digital government services,” said Prof Liu.

NTU is looking to develop a hybrid network of traditional optical communication systems and quantum communication systems, which will improve the compatibility of quantum technologies to be used in more applications.