KETS has developed QKD technology on a chip, and is now working on commercialising it. Their technology can distribute secure keys from a chip the size of a fingernail, which can be easily manufactured in standard semiconductor foundries, and easily integrated into modern electronics. This allows more flexible and scalable key distribution than bulky units, and could bring practical QKD to many applications.
The founders of KETS were behind the chip-to-chip QKD demonstration at Bristol. Having built the prototype as part of a Hub funded programme, they spun out the company to focus on commercialisation. Seed funding in 2017 allowed them to develop the technology further and embark on trials alongside companies such as BT and Airbus. Access to the UKQN via the Hub allows them to test and validate products and the Hub consortium helps them access partners and collaborators.
With partners, they are gradually developing secure communication use cases in finance, oil & gas, critical infrastructure and defence. One such project is working with Airbus and others to demonstrate quantum secured communication between Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and ground stations.
The size of their technology gives it significant advantages. It can be easily integrated into other technologies, such as the hardware security modules that currently handle cryptographic keys, allowing equipment manufacturers to build new quantum secured products using KETS chips.
The technology is still evolving. Within 2-3 years, KETS hopes to offer multiple key transmitters on a single chip. Long term it hopes to integrate chips into handheld devices, and ultimately phones and laptops, which can establish secure communication channels using QKD, for example to improve the security of password apps.
Chris Erven, CEO and Co-Founder of KETS, says
“We are seeing growing interest in the commercial potential of quantum. When we were seeking seed funding, just two years ago, we had to look far and wide to find someone who saw the potential and was willing to invest in what was seen as a very new technology area. But we are now seeing genuine commercial interest in quantum communications technologies and, as a result, increasing recognition from businesses and investors.”