Mohamed Bourennane, forskare vid Fysikum vill utveckla säker kommunikation genom kvantmekanik.
Mohamed Bourennane, researcher at Department of Physics wants to develop secure communication through quantum physics.

Quantum physics describes the behaviour of the smallest building blocks of matter, to which the classic laws of physics do not apply. Researchers working on the “Photonic Quantum Information” project want to develop a completely secure way to transfer information by using the quantum-mechanical properties of photons, small light particles.

Quantum encryption uses strange properties

The method is called quantum encryption and uses entanglement, a quantum-mechanical property so peculiar that Einstein once dismissed it as absurd. If you measure something in one of two entangled photons, while also measuring something in the other one, there will be a pattern in the results even if the photons are far apart. Quantum encryption is based on sending encryption keys with polarised photons between the transmitter and the receiver. Any attempt to access the secret key can be detected as a disruption of the pattern that, according to quantum mechanics, exists providing no one has tried to eavesdrop.

Tough competition

Quantum encryption technology already exists, but at an early stage. The researchers at Stockholm University, in collaboration with researchers at KTH, want to develop the technology and find a way to make it completely independent of the device used. This is an important step, as the manufacturer of quantum-cryptographic equipment may not necessarily play by the rules.

“With our method, the information transmitted will be protected even if the device you are using was built by the hacker himself. There is tough competition in this area, but we have every chance of succeeding. We are a unique interdisciplinary team with expertise in technology, physics and information technology,” says Mohamed Bourennane, professor and researcher in quantum information and quantum optics at Stockholm University.

While developing the technology for quantum encryption, the research team wants to learn more about the basics of quantum physics.

“Quantum physics helps us, and when we use it we will understand more about it,” says Mohamed Bourennane.

The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation has decided which researchers will be awarded the 2015 research grants. The grants are awarded for research projects that are considered to meet the highest international standards and have the potential to lead to scientific breakthroughs in the future. 25 research projects will be awarded a total of about SEK 759 million. Two of these grants, totalling SEK 56 million, will go to Stockholm University.