Over the first five years (2014 – 2019), the vision of the original Hub consortium (comprising the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Heriot Watt, Leeds, Royal Holloway, Sheffield, Strathclyde, and the lead York, plus many private companies and public sector bodies) was to develop quantum secure communications technologies for new markets, enabling widespread use and adoption – from government and commerce through to consumers and the home. Using proven concepts such as quantum key distribution (QKD) systems, the aim was to advance these to a commercialisation-ready stage.
Major Hub achievements over the first five years include:
- Building and launching the UK’s first Quantum Network, demonstrating that quantum secure communications can operate in the real world, alongside conventional high speed optical communications, using standard commercial grade optical fibre
- Advancing miniaturisation of QKD technologies, and demonstrating the world’s first chip-to-chip QKD encrypted transmission
- Demonstration of free space QKD between a handheld device and wall mounted terminal, paving the way for wireless short-range QKD with continuous supply of provably secure keys
Significant progress was also made towards real-world realisation of new approaches beyond QKD, such as advancing the assurance process for Quantum Random Number Generators (QRNGs), and taking quantum digital signatures, from laboratory demonstrations over several metres of optical fibre to practical 100km distances in metropolitan networks.