|Aug 22, 2011
Briefing: Nanotechnologies for secure communications
(Nanowerk News) The ObservatoryNANO project has released its latest briefing: "Nanotechnologies for Secure Communications".
The spectrum of threats and types of attackers targeting information
systems are growing, creating security concerns for national
security, businesses, and individuals. In this environment,
attention to new measures that enhance security is growing at
all levels. As a result, public and private standards relevant to
information protection are becoming increasingly stringent.
Quantum Cryptography (QC) is one emerging security technology
that offers radically new protection measures. Quantum
key distribution (QKD) encryption, the most advanced recently developed method of QC aimed
to distribute a secret key, can be used in conjunction with existing virtual private network service
offerings for businesses needing communication services for content requiring a higher degree
of confidentiality and protection.
Practical realisation of QKD technology relies on availability
of systems providing production, propagation and detection of individual light particles -
single photons. Single photon sources based on nano-structured materials such as quantum
dots, carbon nanotubes and diamond nanowires that have enabled the development, and recent
demonstration, of a small number of commercial products. The working distance of existing
technologies is currently limited to around 100km; significant development in fibre optics is
required to make further advances here.
The costs involved in developing QKD-based products
also make it impractical for mainstream applications and, for now, these applications are limited
to use by major financial institutions, national security and other government agencies.
Secure storage and transmission of sensitive
information has become a growing risk for both
business and private communications.
Quantum Cryptography is an emerging security
approach that may offer radically new protection
measures for processing information. The
competitive advantage of QKD over conventional
cryptography is quite solid as it is based
on the fundamental laws of quantum mechanics.
However, the theory-based promise of
"100% security" needs to be critically and independently
reviewed for the existing QC applications.
Europe has put a considerable effort into research
in the field of quantum information processing
that has resulted in the development of a
strong scientific background and several commercial
Nevertheless, with current levels of EU R&D
funding below average in terms ofworldwide
funding support in the field of quantum informainformation
processing, there is a considerable risk that
European research, and the resulting commercial
and defence technology developments, will
not be sustainable.
Future competitiveness of the EU requires a significant
effort both on the European and national
levels. The structure of the funding must
account for the interdisciplinary character of the
Governmental organizations, banks, armed
forces, and national security departments are
early adopters of QKD technology. As the market
evolves and costs come down, the next
group to apply QKD technology would be financial
institutions, foreign embassies and online