The theme of the new phase of the Hub is one of expansion, delivering quantum secured communication technologies at all distance scales and offering a range of applications and services with the potential for integration with existing infrastructure. Technologies and methods widely used today will be vulnerable to emerging quantum computing technologies, so currently distributed, conventionally encrypted information with a requirement for long-term security will be at risk in the future. New “quantum-safe” practical and cost-effective methods have to be developed that are not vulnerable to any future quantum technology.
As part of the work plan for the next five years, the Quantum Communications Hub aims to deliver a wide range of technologies fundamentally based on the concept of Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) for the secure distribution of secret keys.
During its second phase, the Hub will be:
- Engineering “many-to-one” flexible, handheld technologies to enhance practicality and real-world operation in short-distance communication scenarios.
- Enhancing the UK Quantum Network (UKQN), a Hub established national facility for communications at city, metropolitan or inter-city scale, with added capability and new QKD technologies – using quantum light analogous to that used in conventional communications, or using entanglement working towards even longer distance fibre communications.
- Developing a new programme of work developing ground to satellite QKD links to address longest distance communications, intercontinental and across oceans.
- Addressing key engineering challenges (miniaturisation for size, weight and power savings, and to enable mass manufacture) for on-chip operation and integration, while also establishing national capability, both in quantum communication technologies and their key components such as light sources and detectors.
- Incorporating a cross-cutting theme of security – of devices, systems and end-to-end – across all technology approaches incorporating work on metrology, calibration and industrial standards; cryptographic analysis of quantum and post-quantum technologies; and the undertaking of security analysis, vulnerability analysis and testing, and the development of countermeasures – all from the perspective of providing practical and secure applications and services.