[For all news related to the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme, please see the programme's RSS news feed]

Quantum Wonderland at New Scientist Live, London, 20-23 September 2018

Sep 24th 2018

Over four days in September, the Quantum Communications Hub co-ordinated the presence of the Quantum City public engagement initiative of the national programme at one of UK’s largest science festivals – the New Scientist Live.

Featuring many interactive demos, Hub colleagues from Heriot Watt and partners from the other Hubs and the Quantum CDTs showcased the transformative effect of these emerging technologies across all aspects of everyday life. The Hub participated with the MacroPhoton exhibit, a teaching aid introducing visitors to the concepts of quantum secure key exchange between two communicating partners. Other exhibits included demos of ion traps, the building blocks of future quantum computers; prototypes of highly sensitive quantum sensors; an exhibit explaining how light travels; a quantum bingo introducing quantum random number generators; and an augmented reality application highlighting principles of quantum enhanced imaging.


The event was hugely successful with over 40,000 visitors, including a number of London schools. Highlights included visits by Dr Patrick Valance, the government's chief scientific adviser, and British astronaut Tim Peake who was keen to stay longer and discuss upcoming quantum communications experiments on-board the international space station!

New ETSI White Paper on Implementation Security of Quantum Cryptography

Jul 26th 2018

ETSI, the independent, not-for-profit internationally recognized standards body dealing with telecommunications, broadcasting and other electronic communications networks and services, have just published their latest White Paper: Implementation Security of Quantum Cryptography - Introduction, Challenges, Solutions. The paper was authored with significant input by our Quantum Communications Hub colleagues (Director Tim Spiller; quantum networking lead and Chair of the QKD Industry Specification Group at ETSI, TREL's Andrew Shields; Rupesh Kumar;  NPL's Christopher Chunnilall and Alastair Sinclair), industrial partners (BT's Andrew Lord and Catherine White; ID Quantique's Bruno Huttner; TREL's Marco Lucamarini, Zhiliang Yuan and Martin Ward), and members of external advisory board (Norbert Lütkenhaus, University of Waterloo) along with contributions by experts at Telecom-ParisTech, Paris, France,  Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (INRIM), Torino, Italy, NIST, USA, the  National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, Japan, and more.

The White Paper is available to read through this link


Atomic Architects exhibit at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition!

Jul 25th 2018

Our Quantum Communications Hub colleague, Professor Brian Gerardot and his ‘Atomic Architects’ team from Heriot-Watt University recently took part in the prestigious Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition which celebrates the cutting edge of UK science. Seven fast-paced but enjoyable days were spent at the Royal Society in London chatting to visitors of all ages about the excitement of atomically thin crystals for discovering new science and making new technologies.

With generous support from the Hub, the Atomic Architects team created an interactive exhibit to engage all audiences. Visitors could isolate single sheets of atoms by exfoliating (or peeling off) from a large crystal and examine their efforts with a microscope. To help visitors appreciate how many atomic layers they had exfoliated and why they were so colourful, a thin film interference demonstration was made using bubbles – a popular feature for younger visitors!

An eye-catching part of the exhibit was the large interactive Moiré wheel which, when activated by the push button and motor, would spin a top sheet of and atomic crystal relative to the bottom layer to produce a mesmerizing display of Moiré patterns. This model, along with some hand-held paper Moiré images, helped explain how atomic spacing and patterns affect the electronic and optical properties of materials and how atomic layers can be fine-tuned to make entirely new materials.

The final exhibit was an atomically thin LED made by one of the PhD students, Raphael Picard. The LED was popular with visitors: it looked visually arresting and visitors could see and hold the actual device. This led to interesting discussions about the future uses of a wide range of applications, from LEDs to quantum technologies. An accompanying video game (Atomic Architects - available on Android Play and Apple App Store as well as at the team's website) showed the challenges an electron faces in crystals to produce light - a popular game for kids of all ages!

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:

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

Stakeholders of the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme launch new public engagement website

Jun 1st 2018

The Network of UK Quantum Technology Hubs, National Physical Laboratory and Centres for Doctoral Training in quantum technology have today launched a new website to provide information about the impact of the emerging technologies.

Branded Quantum City ( and featuring content in non-technical, engaging language, the website aims to promote awareness, create interest and address any questions about the impact the new technologies will have across all aspects of everyday life: healthcare, environment, transport, finance, manufacturing, communications, and many more. With a design that is modern, colourful and easy to navigate, the website aims to appeal to a wide range of audiences: from interested audiences with no technical background to science enthusiasts, and from teachers to young students, who want to find out more about quantum related career pathways. The site has been conceived as an ever-evolving depository of content to eventually include: pieces explaining basic concepts in quantum technologies, how these translate onto practical applications and how they compare to existing solutions; videos and animations, including of fun technical demonstrations; educational materials and teaching resources; news items highlighting exciting developments; blogs written by researchers and partners relating their experiences of working in the field; events listings; and much more.

The website is part of a larger joint initiative to promote public engagement involving many partners. Through a joint communications and impact evaluation plan, a series of science festival demonstrations, strong online presence and a coordinated social media strategy, participating partners hope to instil an understanding of the benefits of quantum technologies for all of us, showcase the UK’s expertise in this area, and inspire young audiences to become the next generation of quantum technologists.

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.