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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



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