Crackpot tech: Quantum cryptography redux

As Peter Wayner notes in the quantum cryptography segment of "12 crackpot tech ideas that could transform the enterprise," the main draw of the technology is that it gives the recipient of a message the ability to detect whether any eavesdropping has occurred en route.

QKD (quantum key distribution), the technology behind quantum cryptography, employs lasers to encode each bit of an AES key with a single photon of light. Ensuring that a laser generates a single photon for each bit, however, is no trivial matter. And if a second photon is emitted, one could be decrypted without detection.

Two projects unveiled at Nano Tech 2007 in Tokyo aim to tackle this hurdle, as shown on this Nano Tech conference roundup video from IDGNS Tokyo.

The first, Toshiba's Quantum Crypto System, uses a lower-power laser to transmit decoy photons in a second stream to increase the probability of eavesdropping detection, according to Andrew Shields, group leader of the quantum interaction group at Toshiba Research Europe.

Meanwhile, Fuijitsu demonstrated at the conference a laser it claims can reliably generate a single photon every time. According to Kazuya Takemoto, of Fujitsu's nanotechnology research center, the ensured security of this methodology should appeal to the financial, health care, and military sectors.

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