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UC San Diego Receives Quantum Communications Research Grant

A team of researchers led by the University of California, San Diego have won a four-year, $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a quantum communication system for secure transmissions over fiber optic cables.

While secure quantum communication has already been demonstrated in laboratories, it is currently possible only at extremely low temperatures using bulky equipment. Shayan Mookherjea, a professor of electrical engineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, and a team of researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Boston University, are working to develop a low-energy, scalable, engineered quantum communication system that uses entanglement over conventional optical fiber, according to a news release.

The NSF funded this team, along with five other interdisciplinary teams, as part of the Advancing Communication Quantum Information Research in Engineering (ACQUIRE) research area, which is part of the Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) program of the NSF Directorate for Engineering.

"This new NSF program will bring together many of our nation's most innovative researchers in quantum photonics to launch a coordinated attack on some of the most long-standing and high-value research challenges in optics," said Mookherjea, in a prepared statement.

Other members of Mookherjea's team include Paul Kwiat and Virginia Lorenz, physics professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and Alexander Sergienko, professor of electrical engineering and physics at Boston University.

The goal of the ACQUIRE research projects is to develop a quantum communication system on a chip that can operate at room temperature using quantum-entangled photons over a fiber optic network. Quantum communication offers unbreakable encryption, according to the news release, and offers a potential solution to cybersecurity issues.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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