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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T001011/1
Title: The EPSRC Quantum Communications Hub
Principal Investigator: Spiller, Professor TP
Other Investigators:
Vick, Mr AJA Donaldson, Dr R J Nejabati, Professor R
Penty, Professor R Fox, Professor AM Rarity, Professor J
Paul, Professor DJ Simeonidou, Professor D Colbeck, Professor R
Andersson, Professor E Heffernan, Professor J Sahin, Dr D
Perez Delgado, Dr CA Kok, Professor P Hadfield, Professor RH
Rafferty, Dr C Khalid, Dr AA Oi, Dr DKL
Kent, Professor A Skolnick, Professor M White, Professor I
Buller, Professor G O'Brien, Professor D Wilson, Professor L
Hernandez-Castro, Professor J O'Neill, Professor M Erven, Dr C
Fedrizzi, Professor A Pirandola, Dr S
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Dr D Aktas Dr E Hugues Salas Dr S K Joshi
Dr G Kanellos Dr D Lowndes Dr R Parapatil Subramanian
Dr D Pitalua Garcia Mr A Wonfor
Project Partners:
ADVA Optical Networking SE Arqit Limited BT
Chase research Cryogenics Ltd Fraunhofer Institut (Multiple, Grouped) ID Quantique
KETS Quantum Security Ltd National Physical Laboratory NPL Teledyne UK Ltd
Department: Physics
Organisation: University of York
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 December 2019 Ends: 30 November 2025 Value (£): 27,348,141
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
28 Mar 2019 QT Hub interview panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Quantum technologies (QT) are new, disruptive information technologies that can outperform their conventional counterparts, in communications, sensing, imaging and computing. The UK has already invested significantly in a national programme for QT, to develop and exploit these technologies, and is now investing further to stimulate new UK industry and generate a supply of appropriately skilled technologists across the range of QT sectors.

All QT exploit the various quantum properties of light or matter in some way. Our work is in the communications sector, and is based on the fundamental effect that measuring or detecting quantum light signals irreversibly disturbs them. This effect is built into Nature, and will not go away even when technologies (quantum or conventional) are improved in the future. The fundamental disturbance of transmitted quantum light signals enables secure communications, as folk intercepting signals when they are not supposed to (so-called eavesdroppers) will always get caught. This means Alice and Bob can use quantum light signals to set up secure shared data, or keys, which they can then use for a range of secure communications and transactions - this is quantum key distribution (QKD). The irreversible disturbance of light can also be used to generate random numbers - another very important ingredient for secure communications, cryptology, simulation and modelling.

In the modern world where communications are so ubiquitous and important, there is increasing demand for new secure methods. Technologies and methods widely used today will be vulnerable to emergent quantum computing technologies, so encrypted information being sent around today which has a long security shelf-life will be at risk in the future. New "quantum safe" methods that are not vulnerable to any future QT have to be developed. So QKD and new mathematical encryption must be made practical and cost effective, and soon.

The grand vision of the Quantum Communications Hub is therefore to pursue quantum communications at all distance scales, to offer a range of applications and services and the potential for integration with existing infrastructure. Very short distance communications require free space connections for flexibility. Examples include between a phone or other handheld device and a terminal, or between numerous devices and a fixed receiver in a room. The Hub will be engineering these "many-to-one" technologies to enhance practicality and real-world operation. Longer distance conventional communications - at city, metropolitan and inter-city scales - already use optical fibres, and quantum communications have to leverage and complement this. The Hub has already established the UK's first quantum network, the UKQN. We will be extending and enhancing the UKQN, adding function and capability, and introducing new QKD technologies - using quantum light analogous to that used in conventional communications, or using entanglement working towards even longer distance fibre communications. The very longest distance communications - intercontinental and across oceans - require satellites. The Hub will therefore work on a new programme developing ground to satellite QKD links.

Commercial QKD technologies for all distance scales will require miniaturisation, for size, weight and power savings, and to enable mass manufacture. The Hub will therefore address key engineering for on-chip operation and integration.

Although widely applicable, key-sharing does not provide a solution for all secure communication scenarios. The Hub will therefore research other new quantum protocols, and the incorporation of QKD into wider security solutions.

Given the changing landscape worldwide, it is becoming increasingly important for the UK to establish national capability, both in quantum communication technologies and their key components such as light sources and detectors. The Hub has assembled an excellent team to deliver this capability.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Organisation Website: http://www.york.ac.uk