Isro demonstrates technology for quantum encrypted data transmission

Published on Mar 23, 2021 09:53 AM IST

This experiment can form the basis for a future quantum key encrypted data transmission between satellites and ground stations

Representational image. (Bloomberg)
Representational image. (Bloomberg)

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) on Monday demonstrated quantum key sharing in free space over a distance of 300 metres for the first time in the country. The demonstration included a live video-conferencing with quantum key encrypted signals between two line-of-sight buildings at Space Application Centre in Ahmedabad.

This experiment can form the basis for a future quantum key encrypted data transmission between satellites and ground stations. A satellite-based quantum encrypted communication can be used to create a network for sharing secret messages.

“This is a major milestone achievement for unconditionally secured satellite data communication using quantum technologies,” said Isro in a release.

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Quantum cryptography “future proofs” any data transmission as the encryption cannot be cracked by existing computers. The current data security – for sensitive information such as banking – depends on large prime factorisation problems. A present day computer will be able to tell that the prime factors of 6 are 2 and 3 but it would not be able to do so for a number that is big enough.

For that, quantum computers are needed. There is no country that has figured out how to develop one yet, but they are all in the race to do so.

Computers around us work on a system of silicon transistors that store information as bits – either in the state of 0 or 1 –on a binary logic analogous to an on-off switch. But quantum computers use qubits – either a proton or an electron – that can exist as O, 1 or any superposition of any possible combination of 0 and 1.

The space agency is now gearing up to demonstrate the technology between two Indian ground stations.

A number of key technologies were developed indigenously for the demonstration including a NavIC receiver for time synchronization between the transmitter and receiver modules. NavIC or Navigation with Indian Constellation is India’s regional version of satellite-based positioning system.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Anonna Dutt is a health reporter at Hindustan Times. She reports on Delhi government’s health policies, hospitals in Delhi, and health-related feature stories.

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