Crystal cryptography

The University of Melbourne has announced a AUD $9 million international joint venture to commercialise anti-eavesdropping technology based on quantum cryptography.

The University of Melbourne has announced a AUD $9 million international joint venture to market anti-eavesdropping technology based on quantum cryptography.

“Using a unique diamond-based device which produces a single photon of light, we will be able to detect eavesdroppers and stop highly sensitive information being intercepted or stolen,” said Quantum Communications Victoria (QCV) CEO and University of Melbourne scientist, Dr Shane Huntington.

The QCV programme within the University’s School of Physics has secured a deal with world leading quantum communication production and commercialisation companies, MagiQ Technologies , Qucor and Silicon Graphics.

The joint venture began after QCV was awarded $3.3 million as part of a grant from the Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development to develop the technology further.

The University of Melbourne technology has widespread implications for financial institutions, security agencies, governments and individuals who need to communicate sensitive information with total security.

“Eavesdropping is a global problem which causes huge financial losses for security agencies. There is a critical need for Australia to keep up with the rest of the world in Internet security,” Huntington said.

According to the FBI, breaches of critical information transmitted through the Internet cause losses of millions of dollars worldwide.

Huntington said current communications systems are not foolproof. Hackers or eavesdroppers can extract information from optical fibres without users being aware eavesdropping has occurred. “The challenge has been to completely remove all avenues of interception by eavesdroppers,” he said.

Members of QCV have recently been awarded a Commonwealth Government International Science Linkages Grant of AUD $480,000 from the Department of Education Science and Training to develop its diamond-based technology further in an international collaboration with researchers in USA and Germany.

“This additional grant enhances the research base of the QCV program. In particular, it will help us to find infrared sources of single photons appropriate for the world’s telecommunications networks,” said Dr Huntington.

The Quantum Communications Victoria programme established by the Victoria State Government aims to provide prototype single photon sources for industry within the next three years.