News

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The third annual report is now published!

Jun 18th 2018

York, 18 June 2018

The third annual report of the Quantum Communications Hub, covering the period 2016-2017, was published earlier this month. The report was compiled with input from across the partnership and covers technical developments across all technology themes as well as content on partnership resource projects, user engagement events, outreach activities and much more.

The report can be accessed through this link: https://www.quantumcommshub.net/wp-content/src/Third-Annual-Report-of-the-Quantum-Communications-Hub-2016-2017.pdf

Hub Partner Cambridge Launches UK’s First Quantum Network

Jun 13th 2018

Cambridge, Wednesday 13 June 2018

The UK’s first quantum network, a major Hub deliverable, was launched today in Cambridge, enabling ‘unhackable’ communications, made secure by the laws of physics, between three sites around the city.

The ‘metro’ network provides secure quantum communications between the Electronic Engineering Division at West Cambridge, the Department of Engineering in the city centre and Toshiba Research Europe Ltd (TREL) on the Cambridge Science Park.

Quantum links are so secure because they rely on particles of light, or photons, to transmit encryption keys through the optical fibre. Should an attacker attempt to intercept the communication, the key itself changes through the laws of quantum mechanics, thus alerting the communicating parties to the presence of an eavesdropper.

 

Researchers have been testing the ultra-secure network for the last year, providing stable generation of quantum keys at rates between two and three megabits per second. These keys are used to securely encrypt data, both in transit and in storage. Performance has exceeded expectations, with the highest recorded sustained generation of keys in field trials that include encryption of data in multiple 100 gigabit channels.

The Cambridge network was built by partners in the Quantum Communications Hub, a consortium of eight UK universities, as well as private sector companies and public sector stakeholders. The local infrastructure was provided by TREL, who supplied the quantum key distribution (QKD) systems; ADVA, who supplied the optical transmission equipment; and the University’s Granta Backbone
Network, which provided the optical fibre.

The UK Quantum Network is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through the UK’s National Quantum Technologies Programme. It brings together concentrations of research excellence and innovation, facilitating greater collaboration between the two in development of applications that exploit the unique formal guarantee of security provided by
quantum physics.

“Through this network we can further improve quantum communications technologies and interoperability, explore and develop applications and services, and also demonstrate these to potential end users and future customers,” said Professor Timothy Spiller of the University of York, and Director of the Quantum Communications Hub.

“The development of the UK Quantum Network has already led to a much greater understanding of the potential of this technology in secure applications in a range of fields, in addition to bringing new insights into the operation of the systems in practice,” said Professor Ian White from Cambridge’s Department of Engineering. “I have no doubt that the network will bring much benefit in the future to researchers, developers and users.”

“Working with the Quantum Communications Hub, Cambridge and ADVA has allowed us to develop an interface for delivering quantum keys to applications,” said Dr Andrew Shields, Assistant Director of Toshiba Research Europe Ltd. “In the coming years the network will be an important resource for developing new applications and use cases.”

“Development of the network has brought together in the Quantum Communications Hub partnership many world-class researchers and facilities from both UK universities and industry,” said Dr Liam Blackwell, Head of Quantum Technologies at EPSRC. “This is a reflection of EPSRC’s commitment to investing in UK leadership in advanced research and innovation in quantum
technologies.”

We are hiring!

Apr 13th 2018

We are seeking a talented postdoctoral research associate to work on an experimental project looking at assurance for quantum random number generators (QRNGs). This position is funded by the EPSRC’s Quantum Communications Hub and will be based at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in Teddington in the group led by Dr Alastair Sinclair. The project will involve developing the necessary experimental understanding, expertise and techniques to test quantum photonic QRNGs. The developed approach will be applied to one or two selected implementations, and contribute to the development of a UK assurance process for these devices.

This is a fixed term position to start as soon as possible and will finish at the end of November 2019.  You will be based at the NPL in Teddington and the University of York will employ you throughout your contract.

The responsibilities of this role include:

  • Conducting research under the supervision of senior colleagues and to contribute to the production of research
  • Providing guidance to other project partners and interacting with them to understand the experimental results that are achieved.
  • Co-ordinating and attending meetings and research visits with project partners
  • Assisting in the identification and development of potential areas of research
  • Undertaking appropriate organisational and administrative activities connected to the research project, including conference organisation, and the development of promotional or educational material including website maintenance and development, as required.

For more information and to apply, please visit this link

Canada Quantum Technologies Expert Mission, 19-23 March 2018

Apr 2nd 2018

 

The Hub Director, Professor Tim Spiller, travelled to Canada for a week as part of an Innovate UK (IUK) Global Expert Mission into Quantum Technologies. Delivered by the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) with support from the Catapult Centres, the Expert Missions help further IUK’s global strategy by providing the evidence base for where it should invest and by providing the opportunities for UK businesses to build partnerships and collaborations with key economies. Canada has invested over $1billion in quantum-related R&D over the past decade and is currently a global leader in this emerging field.

Starting in 2014, the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme is investing more than £270m over 5 years to commercialise quantum technology – the largest UK government investment in a disruptive technology ever made. This coordinated national programme, part of which is the University of York-led Quantum Communications Hub, builds on a world-class science base and will accelerate development and commercialisation of quantum technologies through the close collaboration of academia, industry and government.

In 2017, the UK and Canadian governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) related to science, technology and innovation. The MOU represents a commitment to enhance bilateral co-operation on complementary areas of research, technology, entrepreneurship and innovation, with the aim of accelerating the commercialisation of emerging technologies, and thus promoting the growth of jobs and businesses. Quantum technologies is stated as being one of four initial priority areas on which to focus.

The Canada Quantum Technologies Expert Mission visited Ottawa, Waterloo and Vancouver during the week of 19-23 March 2018. The UK and Canada have a history of world-class research and substantial investment in quantum science and quantum technology. There are two distinct industrial markets: specialist technology to support the ~1,500 laboratories world-wide engaged in quantum research, and end-user products incorporating quantum technology. This Mission is particularly interested in Canadian work on QKD in space (a key Hub priority for the future), and future mission and exploitation plans, and Canadian work on quantum computers.

The Mission was led by Sir Peter Knight and included senior programme stakeholders from all four UK Quantum Technology Hubs, the National Physical Laboratory as well as leading industry representatives. It specifically seeked to: develop a deeper understanding of the quantum technologies landscape in Canada; explore prospective areas for future collaboration on quantum technologies between the UK and Canada; identify synergies between the activities of the two countries; and gain a greater understanding of Canadian priorities in R&D and industrial, supply-chain, end-user and technology exploitation.

An official report on the Mission will become available later on in the year.

 

Two new research associate posts in quantum communications!

Feb 20th 2018

The Quantum Communications Hub is looking to hire two talented postdoctoral research associates to work on a quantum random numbers generators project, funded by the Hub's partnership resource allocation. The project will involve developing models as well as the necessary experimental understanding, expertise and techniques to test one or two implementations of quantum photonic random number generators (QRNGs), liaising with experimental colleagues at the National Physical Laboratory to ensure the suitability of this approach. The project will contribute to the development of a UK assurance process for these devices.

The first of these appointments will be based at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington working with Dr Christopher Chunnilall, while the second will be at the Department of Mathematics, University of York, working with Dr Roger Colbeck.

For more information and to apply, please visit here - for the experimental, NPL based position, and here - for the theoretical, University of York based one.

 

Science and Technology Committee launches inquiry into Quantum Technologies

Feb 8th 2018

8 February 2018

An inquiry into quantum technologies, one of the government's 14 "core industrial challenges" has been announced by the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee. The launch follows on from government investment of £270m in 2013 as part of the original UK National Quantum Technologies Programme, a Blackett report into quantum technological opportunities published by the Government Office for Science in 2016, and the recent announcement of £20m of "pioneer funding" as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Written submissions of evidence are welcome, particularly with reference to:

  • The progress that has been made on the recommendations in the Government Office for Science’s 2016 report;
  • The relative contribution/support from government, researchers and businesses needed to make quantum technologies a success;
  • The current state of the UK quantum industry and its potential going forward, including particular strengths and challenges;
  • What oversight or regulation is needed;
  • Potential barriers for developing quantum technologies, and how these might be overcome;
  • What research priorities there should be for quantum technologies and their possible uses, and who is best placed to undertake/fund that work;
  • The role of international collaboration in quantum technology research and development; and the risks and opportunities of Brexit in this area;
  • Any challenges from potential civil/military ‘dual-use’ applications of the technologies, and how these can be addressed;
  • Any potential societal implications – positive and negative – of the development of quantum technologies, including on health, security, privacy or equality.

Deadline for submissions is the 29th of March. For more information on the scope, terms of reference and how to submit evidence, please visit the inquiry page here.

 

Quantum Communications Hub demonstrates technology advances at 2017 National Quantum Technologies Showcase

Nov 30th 2017
Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive of UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), visiting one of the Hub stands at the 2017 Quantum Showcase                                                                                                     

The 2017 National Quantum Technologies Showcase took place on 22 November at the QEII Conference Centre in central London. The third such meeting of its kind, the showcase is the flagship user engagement event of the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme, aimed at highlighting the commercial potential of the emerging technologies for the UK and global economy to representatives of government and industry. This year’s event attracted over 600 delegates and included nearly 60 technology demonstrators, covering multiple sectors of the economy: transport, healthcare, defence and security, components and heavy industry, finance, space and communications and future networks.

The Quantum Communications Hub contributed to the organisation of the event, led this year by the EPSRC, and took part with a number of technology demonstrators led by experimental colleagues at the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge and York, as well as industrial partners Toshiba Research Europe Ltd, BT and ADVA. Our exhibits ranged across the sectors: (i) integrated photonics in the form of chip-based quantum key distribution (QKD), offering distinct commercial advantages in terms of enhanced functionality and cost-effective manufacturing; (ii) quantum keys used as a network resource, demonstrating the adaptive functionalities and agile network capabilities resulting from combining QKD security with existing software defined networks (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV) principles; (iii) low-cost, short-range QKD for use on handheld devices, enabling cryptographic interaction with ATM-like terminals; (iv) an optical fibre-based transmitter and receiver system for exchanging classical and quantum signals using single laser pulse, for monitoring eavesdropping and generating secure keys for cryptographic purposes; (v) a demonstration of securing data centre links with quantum cryptography over optical fibre networks; (vi) an exhibit highlighting work on the UKQNTel project, the extension arm of the UK’s Quantum Network linking major R&D and business clusters in Cambridge with and Adastral Park via optical fibre.

To find out more about the specific activities of the Hub as well as the wider national investment in quantum technologies, please visit the project website at www.quantumcommshub.net/

 

Low-cost, short-range handheld Quantum Key Distribution prototypes were exhibited at the showcase
Demonstration showing part of the UK's first Quantum Network around Cambridge

 

 

 

Quantum Secured Transmission Demonstration at the University of York

Oct 23rd 2017

 

ID Quantique’s Cerberis Quantum Key Distribution platform for secure key exchange, as used in the Hub demo hosted at York

 

The University of York, lead partner in the Quantum Communications Hub partnership, is taking part in an EPSRC-commissioned public dialogue on quantum technologies, facilitated by Kantar Public, an independent social research agency. The dialogue consists of two full-day workshops with an interim activity and is rolled out across all lead institutions of the National Network Quantum Technology Hubs – the Universities of Birmingham, Glasgow, Oxford and York. The main purpose of the exercise is to introduce members of the public to the emerging technologies, explain the full range of applications, relevance to everyday life and disruptive market potential, while at the same time dispel misconceptions and record the public’s hopes, expectations, fears and concerns.

Professor Tim Spiller (Department of Physics, York) and Dr Almut Beige (School of Physics and Astronomy University of Leeds) are taking part in the workshops, while Hub partner BT were invited to present a technical demonstration and public talk on how quantum communications can help counter the threat of quantum computing. The event was hosted on Friday 20 October at the 360 interactive space in the Ron Cooke Hub, and was preceded by a special, invitation-only, preview for members of the Faculty of Science in the University. Professor Andrew Lord, BT’s Head of Optical Research, demonstrated the capability of existing Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) technology to cancel all attempts by a hacker (“Eve”) at intercepting quantum secured transmissions of video files between two communicating parties (“Alice” and “Bob”).

The Quantum Communications Hub research team, led by Director Spiller, are working with major industrial partners such as BT, ID Quantique and Toshiba, to advance existing QKD technologies to commercial-ready status, overcome their current limitations and in so doing, open up new markets enabling widespread adoption and use.

The results of the public dialogue will be made available in a report authored by Kantar Public, in early 2018.