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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P016588/1
Title: Towards Practical Quantum Technologies
Principal Investigator: Colbeck, Dr R
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
University of Michigan
Department: Mathematics
Organisation: University of York
Scheme: First Grant - Revised 2009
Starts: 01 July 2017 Ends: 30 June 2019 Value (£): 101,080
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Quantum Optics & Information
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
25 Oct 2016 EPSRC Physical Sciences - October 2016 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
In order to make online purchases, we need to send our credit card details to the merchant, and the importance of doing so secretly is clear. Remarkably, there are known ways to break the schemes we use today. Fortunately, we don't today have the technology to perform these hacks quickly enough for them to be useful in most applications. Nevertheless, there are several reasons to be uncomfortable about the present schemes. For one, there are some secrets for which it might be worth investing the large amount of time required to hack, and hence that we would like to encrypt more securely. Secondly, we expect that one day we will have technology powerful enough to quickly break the current schemes and so it is important to be ready with a new paradigm.

Quantum technology is a promising candidate for this. It has the advantage that its security doesn't rely on hacking taking time: instead it can be proven that the scheme cannot be broken, provided the equipment used for the protocol works as it should. However, building such equipment is very challenging because these schemes rely on the use of extremely small systems, which are hence difficult to address and highly susceptible to noise. Many experimental groups are striving to achieve new levels of precision and protection against this noise.

In the case of another important task, random number generation, quantum technology can have an arguably more significant effect. Random numbers are useful in numerous applications from simulations to gambling, and in such applications use of classical pseudo-random numbers (which contain subtle correlations) could be detrimental. A shrewd gambler who found a way to exploit these subtle patterns could in principle bring down a casino, for example. Unlike any classical algorithm, a quantum random number generator can certify the generation of true randomness based on the laws of physics, and hence provide a guarantee to users that no subtle correlations remain.

The research in this proposal constitutes work that will directly underpin such technologies, informing the most promising ways to take them forward, and investigating other ways in which quantum theory can be of use in cryptography. It will also enhance our understanding of the foundations of quantum theory, giving a fresh take on what Einstein once called "Spooky action at a distance".

This research would be undertaken at the University of York and will involve collaboration with international project partners in Michigan, USA.
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Organisation Website: http://www.york.ac.uk