Scientists make first video call using ‘unhackable’ quantum network

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Scientists in Austria and China made the first video call using quantum encryption, which is dubbed as “ impregnable” by experts.

A statement issued by the Chinese Academy of Sciences said that its president, Chunli Bai, made a video call to his counterpart at the Austria Academy of Sciences in Vienna, Anton Zeilinger, in the “first real-world demonstration of intercontinental quantum communication”.

As opposed to the conventional encryption methods, encryption through quantum networks uses quantum particles to transfer information from one point to another.

Quantum channels send messages embedded in light, and experts say that attempts to disrupt or eavesdrop on them would create detectable disturbances in the system.

The video call was done using a “sophisticated satellite, named Micius”, which is equipped with “a decoy-state QKD transmitter, an entangled-photon source, and a quantum teleportation receiver and analyser,” The Independent reported.

China in early September set up its first “commercial” quantum network in its northern province of Shandong, state media said, the country’s latest step in advancing a technology expected to enable “hack proof” communications.

China touted that it is at the forefront of developing quantum technology. In August it said it sent its first “unbreakable” quantum code from an experimental satellite to the Earth. The Pentagon had called the launch of that satellite a year earlier a “notable advance”.

The country’s “first commercial quantum private communication network” was set up for exclusive use by more than 200 government and official users in Shandong’s provincial capital Jinan, the official Xinhua news agency said.

“Hundreds of pieces of equipment connected by hundreds of kilometers of fiber optics were installed within five months,” Xinhua said.

The network provides secure telephone and data communication services and is expected to be connected to a Beijing-Shanghai quantum network, the news agency said.

Other countries, including the United States, have been working on their own quantum networks for years.