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The way we secure digital transactions could soon change. An international team has demonstrated a form of quantum cryptography that can protect people doing business with others they may not know or trust – a situation encountered often on the internet and in everyday life, for example at a bank's ATM.

"Having quantum cryptography to hand is a realistic prospect, I think. I expect that quantum technologies will gradually become integrated with existing devices such as smartphones, allowing us to do things like identify ourselves securely or generate encryption keys," says Stephanie Wehner, a Principal Investigator at the Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT) at the National University of Singapore, and co-author on the paper.

In cryptography, the problem of providing a secure way for two mutually distrustful parties to interact is known as 'two-party secure computation'. The new work, published in Nature Communications, describes the implementation using quantum technology of an important building block for such schemes.

CQT theorists Wehner and Nelly Ng teamed up with researchers at the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo, Canada, for the demonstration.

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