Switzerland Beats UK to Claim Quantum Computing Breakthrough
TerraQuantum’s discovery could lead to global secure networks for banks and governments
A Swiss quantum computing start-up has claimed a major breakthrough in encryption technology, beating British technologists to develop a system that can
send theoretically unhackable messages around the world. Terra Quantum, a Swiss business developing ways to keep sensitive information safe from the ability of quantum computers to break traditional encryption, has found a new method of securely sending data onﬁbre optic cables for up to 40,000km
The company’s new secure transmission method works using quantum key distribution, which is a way of sending data using quantum mechanics that many
physicists say makes it impossible for hackers to intercept the data without alerting either side. “We were looking for a protocol that works one existing optical ﬁbre infrastructure because that’s what we have today,” said Terra Quantum chief executive Markus Pﬂitsch. “You can actually use it. We can implement it today over today’s telecom infrastructure. That was crucial that it’s implementable.”
Terra Quantum’s breakthrough could pave the way for more governments and ﬁnancial institutions to build quantum key distribution networks around the world, progressing beyond the small scale networks currently in use.
Last year, BT and Toshiba announced the installation of the UK’s ﬁrst industrial quantum key distribution network which operates over 6km of ﬁbre optic cable in Bristol. “In terms of other groups around the globe, they’re very, very low distances which doesn’t really make a practical difference,” Mr Pﬂitsch said.
The executive said the distance that the encryption can work is crucial to making it viable as a global system. “The holy grail is the 20,000km transatlantic cable,” he said. “If you can cross the Atlantic then you are through. With this now we can exchange data between Los Angeles and Shanghai or from Paris to Boston.”
The start-up’s announcement follows a breakthrough it claimed to have made in February in which Terra Quantum said that quantum computing could defeat
widely used traditional encryption.
The Swiss business raised €10m (£8.7m) last year in an investment round led by Lakestar, the venture capital fund which previously backed Revolut and Spotify.