China is set to launch the world's first unhackable computer network this August. Called the Jinan project, the computer network is based on quantum technology.
[Image Source: Erik Lucero/WikimediaCommons]
The development of the computer network puts China amongst the world leaders of quantum technology. The network works by using the city of Jinan as a quantum computer hub. The city is located between Beijing and Shanghai so it can enhance the Beijing-Shanghai quantum network.
Zhou Fei, Assistant Director of the Jinan Institute of Quantum Technology, says of the network, “We plan to use the network for national defense, finance, and other fields, and hope to spread it out as a pilot that if successful, can be used across China and the whole world.” He suggests the system will have a global impact.
The development and subsequent use of the network marks a significant step forward for quantum computing. Jinan will be the first quantum network used by a country for a commercial purpose.
China is also developing the Hefei machine which has the potential to surpass all other existing quantum computers in the world. Earlier this year, Chinese researchers also successfully transported a photon from earth to a satellite in space using quantum physics.
Quantum key distribution network
The Jinan network is technically unhackable. It is known as a quantum key distribution (QKD) network which is much more secure than than traditional electronic communication networks. Internet or telephone cables can be tapped without the sender or receiver being aware. But a QKD network alerts both users as soon as any tampering is detected. Any tampering or attempted hack immediately changes the information being sent within the network and so the disturbance is immediately recognized and reported.
Once the network goes live in August it will be technically impossible for China to be the subject of bugging from other governments. The aim of the network is for roughly 200 members of the Chinese government to be able to send messages that are totally private.
[Image Source: Daderot/Wikimedia Commons]
China is flying ahead with quantum technology
Once completed the network will stretch more than 2000 km making it the largest land-based quantum network in the world. Quantum physicist Tim Byrnes, spoke to media about the network, saying "China has achieved staggering things with quantum research… It's amazing how quickly China has gotten on with quantum research projects that would be too expensive to do elsewhere… quantum communication has been taken up by the commercial sector much more in China compared to other countries, which means it is likely to pull ahead of Europe and US in the field of quantum communication."
Europe is determined not be left behind in the quantum race, investing more than EUR 550 million into quantum technologies in recent years. China seems to have more momentum in the race though. Quantum technologies have been billed as the most important technological development of the 21st Century.