Kicking Off the Quantum Age
Chinese researchers will launch the world’s first quantum communications satellite and the world’s largest quantum communications network into service in mid-2016. According to the mission’s chief scientist, Pan Jianwei, the new system will kick off an era of “spook-proof” or hack-proof communications. According to Jianwei, the impetus for such a system is derived from China’s interest in having a fully operational quantum communication system in case of regional war.
Wang Jianyu, deputy director of the China Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Shanghai, notes that the quantum communications satellite will be linked to a quantum computer with power similar to the world’s fastest supercomputer, the Tiahhe 2. The ground-based quantum communications network will stretch from Beijing to Shanghai, or about 1,242 miles (2,000 km).
Jianwei and colleagues have been working with China’s Alibaba Group and ZTE Corporation to develop commerical applications for quantum communications.
China’s near-term goal is to create an Asia-Europe Intercontinental quantum key distribution by 2020 and a global quantum communications network by 2030. Satellite-based quantum communications overcome the huge costs of a terrestrial-based system.
In the meantime, European scientists are proposing to conduct a quantum communications experiment aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
For more on this topic, see the Combined Arms Center’s Cindy Hurst’s paper, “The Quantum Leap into Computing and Communication: A Chinese Perspective.”
The following video explains the satellite project.