IQC Faculty Receive Grant for Collaborative Cryptography Research

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

IQC faculty members receive international grant for collaborative project on quantum cryptography.

Two faculty members at the Institute for Quantum Computing will share in a collaborative grant for a project with researchers in Canada and France. The grant will fund research for a quantum information technology that will benefit information security in the near future.

Prof. Norbert Lütkenhaus and Prof. Michele Mosca will each receive $50,000 per year for the next three years for work on fundamental and applied quantum key distribution networks. "Over the past quarter-century, physicists, mathematicians and engineers have developed the ideas and prototype systems for QKD," said Prof. Lütkenhaus. "This project allows us to play a leading role in the endeavour to bring these tools closer to everyday use."

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council will contribute $750,000 to the Canadian side of the project. The grant involves three other Canadian researchers, two at the University of Calgary and one at the Université de Montréal. The French side of the grant is funded by Agence Nationale de la Recherche and will fund researchers at ENS Cachan, Telecom Paris Tech and SeQureNet. IQC and Prof. Lütkenhaus were key in co-ordinating the collaboration and will continue to play a vital role over the course of the project.

IQC will receive $300,000 from the grant over three years. Prof. Lütkenhaus works on the theory of practical quantum key distribution. Prof. Mosca works on aspects of integrating QKD into existing network security structures. Their work is central to the role of QKD in future cryptographic infrastructure. The current systems for ensuring the security and privacy of information are coming under scrutiny, partly because of the prospect of quantum computing, which could pose a threat to many of today's cryptographic systems.

Quantum key distribution is a technology that exploits basic quantum effects to create a perfectly secure key for sharing secret information between two parties. If the signal of a quantum system is observed it will be disturbed. Researchers can study the compromised signal and estimate the degree of disturbance and the degree of eavesdropping. Then, a perfectly secure key can then be distilled from the partially compromised signals and used to encrypt private information.

Prof. Michele Mosca is a founding member and the deputy director of the IQC. He began his research career in classical cryptography and moved into the quantum domain. Prof. Norbert Lütkenhaus joined IQC in 2006 and is an international leader in the security of practical QKD devices.

About IQC: Founded in 2002, the mission of the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) is to aggressively explore and advance the application of quantum mechanical systems to a vast array of relevant information processing techniques.

A part of the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ont., Canada, IQC creates a truly unique environment fostering cutting-edge research and collaboration between researchers in the areas of computer, engineering, mathematical and physical sciences.

At the time of this release, IQC has 17 faculty members, 22 postdoctoral fellows and over 55 students and research assistants, as well as a support staff of 18.

The Institute for Quantum Computing acknowledges the support of the Government of Canada through Industry Canada and the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Research and Innovation.

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