Secure communication technologies are the backbone of today’s digital economy. However, the security of many of the cryptographic tools used today is threatened by the advent of the quantum computer. A quantum computer will be able to solve efficiently some of the mathematical problems which are the basis of today's public key cryptography. This has stimulated great interest in developing new cryptographic techniques with security based on quantum physics, rather than difficult mathematical problems, and which will therefore remain secure in the quantum era.
Quantum communications is a rapidly maturing technology that solves this problem by distributing secret digital keys using quantum light. As a frontier technology, quantum communications is inherently multidisciplinary. This requires the careful fusion of quantum physics, high-speed electronics, low-loss photonics and high-performance software to generate, manipulate and measure light.
While quantum communications has already been successfully deployed to many optical networks worldwide, this has always employed “standard” single-mode telecommunication fibre. Recently, there has been great progress in the development of next-generation optical fibres, using novel physical designs to achieve very different optical guidance characteristics. Such geometries include hollow-core and few-mode fibres, which offer many advantages for optical communications. This enables, for example, spatial division multiplexing to enhance the classical data-carrying capacity of fibre and reduction of nonlinear and dispersive effects, as well as reduced latency. Novel types of fibres could also offer many benefits for quantum communications, which this project will explore in detail.
This project is funded by a 4 year EPSRC Industrial CASE PhD Studentship and is a collaboration between Toshiba Europe Limited and the University of Cambridge. Candidates should be eligible for an EPSRC award, should hold (or expect) a first degree (min grade 2.1) in Physics, Electronic Engineering or other relevant discipline and should have solid background in optics and quantum physics.