Could quantum key distribution (QKD) in space enable quantum secured communications around the world, across continents and oceans?
Data transfer and secure communications are absolutely essential today - for individuals, institutions, businesses, governments and nations. Society relies upon cybersecurity to ensure that data is stored and transferred securely. Quantum secure communications, and in particular QKD, a mature quantum technology for the distribution of encryption keys, have the potential to one day underpin the world’s digital communications. At present, data transfer by QKD usually takes place by optical fibre, but this is not possible in all situations due to distance limitations – particularly under the sea! To deliver quantum secured communication between continents, techniques need to be developed to transfer quantum encryption keys between ground stations and satellites, and between satellites.
Researchers at the Quantum Communications Hub are working on developing satellite-to-ground quantum communications, which will one day enable data to be transferred around the world, over coming any distance limitations and ensuring data security, no matter how far the data needs to travel. The Hub will soon be launching a satellite equipped with Hub developed quantum technologies into space to enable testing of the technologies which will ultimately bring the technologies closer to implementation within communications infrastructure around the world.