Israel's quantum leap: NIS 7.5m. to go into secure communication system

Quantum information research is one of the hottest areas in 21st-century science, promising dramatic improvements in computation speed based on the universe's smallest particles.

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June 12, 2017 11:32
2 minute read.
Hebrew University Quantum Communications System

Prof. Nadav Katz with a low temperature setup for testing superconducting detectors at the Hebrew University's Quantum Information Science Center. (photo credit: YITZ WOOLF FOR HEBREW UNIVERSITY)

 
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Research at Israel’s leading quantum science center, which has won a tender to build a national quantum communications system, is paving the way for massive improvements in computation speed and secure communication. The goal of this project is to develop homegrown Israeli expertise and technology for a national quantum communications system that will prevent eavesdropping, protect data privacy and secure national infrastructure.

The Quantum Information Science Center (QISC) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has won a NIS 7.5 million tender from the government to lead the construction of a national demonstrator for quantum communications technologies.

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Prof. Nadav Katz, director of the center and a researcher at HU’s Racah Institute of Physics, said on Monday: “This project to build a national quantum communications system will position Israel in the leading edge of research toward ultimately secured communication systems. With support from the Government of Israel and in cooperation with our research partners, this is the first Israeli national project in the emerging field of quantum information technologies.”

Quantum information research is one of the hottest areas in 21st-century science, promising dramatic improvements in computation speed and secure communication. Based on the inherent wave-like nature of matter and light, it will lead to massive leaps forward in our ability to fabricate, control, measure and understand advanced structures.

Commercial quantum communication systems are not subject to peer review by Israeli experts and are therefore not suitable to the needs at hand. An Israeli implementation, subject to peer review and “hack testing” by Israeli scientists, is an essential national resource. To help drive this field forward, HU founded the center four years ago and recruited an interdisciplinary team of over 20 researchers from physics, computer science, mathematics, chemistry, philosophy and engineering. Representing the vanguard of Israel’s quantum researchers, this group is advancing Israel’s understanding of quantum information science and the development of quantum technologies.



As part of this project, researchers will build a communication system at the HU’s laboratories based on single photons representing quantum bits. Quantum bits make it possible to perform calculations in new ways that are not possible in current communications systems or even supercomputers.



Current methods of encrypting data are increasingly vulnerable to attack as the increased power of quantum computing comes online. Quantum communication systems use the laws of physics to secure data and are therefore resistant to attack.

The NIS 7.5 million contract was awarded by the Defense Ministry, which is responsible for developing a secure communications infrastructure to improve privacy and secure national infrastructure. Also participating in the project are Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. and Opsys technologies, as well as an additional researcher from Tel Aviv University.

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