Innovation Anthology

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Program ID: Innovation Anthology #413
Program Date: 08/02/2011
Program Category: Information Technology

Cryptography Breakthrough Produces Secure Key

Safeguarding sensitive communications just got a boost from a team of Alberta researchers.

Using quantum physics, Dr. Wolfgang Tittel and his colleagues at the University of Calgary and SAIT Polytechnic have developed a method to send encrypted messages with a secret key that can never be broken by eavesdroppers.

According to Dr. Tittel, it’s based on the Heisenberg Uncertainty Relation.

DR. WOLFGANG TITTEL: It tells you that you can never measure all properties of a photon at the same time. It’s like you want to measure the speed and the position of a car, and you can pick one or the other but not both, and if you measure the speed of the car, it will move a little bit, it will be somewhere else. Or if you measure where the car is, at a particular moment, it will change its velocity. And it simply means, now applied to key distribution, if somebody tries to measure the key, meaning tries to measure a property of the photon that encodes the key, the key will change a little bit, the car moves from one place to the other, and this is something the receiver can realize, and he also realizes how much eavesdrop[ping has been done.

Dr. Tittel says this breakthrough is important to protect information in health records, government and military communications.

Thanks today to Alberta Innovates Technology Futures

FOR INNOVATION ANTHOLOGY
I’M CHERYL CROUCHER

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