New invention promises quantum internet that can't be hacked

Breakthrough technology uses multiplexing entanglement to make an ultra-secure quantum internet.

New invention promises quantum internet that can't be hacked

Quantum communications technlogy.

Credit: Copyright ÖAW/Klaus Pichler
  • Scientists devise the largest-ever quantum communications network.
  • The technology is much cheaper than previous attempts and promises to be hacker-proof.
  • The 'multiplexing' system devised by the researchers splits light particles that carry information.

Scientists are closer to creating a hacker-proof quantum internet thanks to a promising new invention. A team led by the University of Bristol in the U.K. found a method of securing online communication that relies on the laws of physics.

The approach aims to make any message sent over the internet interception-proof.

The study's lead author Dr. Siddarth Joshi, of the university's Quantum Engineering Technology (QET) Labs, called their work a "massive breakthrough" that makes quantum internet possible. The potential of such a network has run into tremendous costs, resources, and research time while sacrificing security. What the researchers created is "scalable, relatively cheap and, most important of all, impregnable," shared Joshi, adding that "it's an exciting game changer and paves the way for much more rapid development and widespread rollout of this technology."

With hackers seemingly always a step ahead of any protections we've been putting in place on our current internet communications, there's strong motivation for finding a much more secure alternative that wouldn't lead to expensive and damaging privacy breaches. But while's it been hailed for decades as a possible solution, quantum internet hasn't yet been devised to the point of usefulness.

One method of secure encryption already invented, called quantum key distribution, relies on transmitting photons – particles of light. This can be used to share information between two users, using a secret key to encrypt data. The drawback of this tech – it needs a large infrastructure to expand, with each user requiring a separate transmitter and receiver.

"Sharing messages in this way, known as trusted nodes, is just not good enough because it uses so much extra hardware which could leak and would no longer be totally secure," Dr. Joshi explained.

Quantum network in operation.

Credit: Siddarth K. Joshi

What Joshi's team came up with utilizes quantum entanglement, the ability of two particles at different locations to mimic each other. The developed system also sports traffic management that helps control the network, allowing to prioritize user connections.

"Instead of having to replicate the whole communication system, this latest methodology, called multiplexing, splits the light particles, emitted by a single system, so they can be received by multiple users efficiently," elaborated Dr. Joshi.

Artist's drawing of the quantum network, with the glowing lines showing quantum entanglement shared by 8 users.

Credit: Holly Caskie

In fact, the researchers were able to make a network for eight users that only needs eight receiver boxes, not 56 as would be the case under the old approach. The boxes were linked to Bristol's optical fiber network and were successful in sending messages using the quantum communication. Not only was this very secure but the technique relied on existing technology, requiring less hardware and much less financial investment. Previous quantum systems spent years in construction, with costs running into millions and even billions. The new network was made in just months for under $400,000.

The relatively low costs allow the multiplexing entanglement technology to be scaled up widely, propose the scientists, who think they can be "serving not just hundreds or thousands, but potentially millions of users in the not too distant future," as stated Dr. Joshi.

Check out the new research in the journal Science Advances.


What does kindness look like? It wears a mask.

Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling has an important favor to ask of the American people.

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Michael Dowling is president and CEO of Northwell Health, the largest health care system in New York state. In this PSA, speaking as someone whose company has seen more COVID-19 patients than any other in the country, Dowling implores Americans to wear masks—not only for their own health, but for the health of those around them.
  • The CDC reports that there have been close to 7.9 million cases of coronavirus reported in the United States since January. Around 216,000 people have died from the virus so far with hundreds more added to the tally every day. Several labs around the world are working on solutions, but there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19.
  • The most basic thing that everyone can do to help slow the spread is to practice social distancing, wash your hands, and to wear a mask. The CDC recommends that everyone ages two and up wear a mask that is two or more layers of material and that covers the nose, mouth, and chin. Gaiters and face shields have been shown to be less effective at blocking droplets. Homemade face coverings are acceptable, but wearers should make sure they are constructed out of the proper materials and that they are washed between uses. Wearing a mask is the most important thing you can do to save lives in your community.
Keep reading Show less

Science confirms: Earth has more than one 'moon'

Two massive clouds of dust in orbit around the Earth have been discussed for years and finally proven to exist.

J. Sliz-Balogh, A. Barta and G. Horvath
Surprising Science
  • Hungarian astronomers have proven the existence of two "pseudo-satellites" in orbit around the earth.
  • These dust clouds were first discovered in the sixties, but are so difficult to spot that scientists have debated their existence since then.
  • The findings may be used to decide where to put satellites in the future and will have to be considered when interplanetary space missions are undertaken.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists stumble across new organs in the human head

New cancer-scanning technology reveals a previously unknown detail of human anatomy.

Credit: Valstar et al., Netherlands Cancer Institute
Surprising Science
  • Scientists using new scanning technology and hunting for prostate tumors get a surprise.
  • Behind the nasopharynx is a set of salivary glands that no one knew about.
  • Finding the glands may allow for more complication-free radiation therapies.
Keep reading Show less

Millennials reconsidering finances and future under COVID-19

A new survey found that 27 percent of millennials are saving more money due to the pandemic, but most can't stay within their budgets.

Personal Growth
  • Millennials have been labeled the "unluckiest generation in U.S. history" after the one-two financial punch of the Great Recession and the pandemic shutdowns.
  • A recent survey found that about a third of millennials felt financially unprepared for the pandemic and have begun saving.
  • To achieve financial freedom, millennials will need to take control of their finances and reinterpret their relationship with the economy.
  • Keep reading Show less
    Personal Growth

    6 easy ways to transition to a plant-based diet

    Your health and the health of the planet are not indistinguishable.

    Scroll down to load more…
    Quantcast