(Wired.co.uk) Nu Quantum is aiming to harness the quantum capabilities of single particles of light to create next-level encryption.
Carmen Palacios-Berraquero, the CEO and co-founder of Nu Quantum, is working on technologies that can emit and detect single photons – the smallest possible units of light. “Photonic quantum technologies are about manipulating information – processing, communicating and securing information encoded in single particles of light,” she says. “That allows you to do different things – more powerful calculations, or better security.”
Single photons can’t be eavesdropped on or tampered with without the sender and recipient finding out. And they can be used to take advantage of quantum properties such as entanglement to enable more powerful computing and cryptography.
But building them is a really difficult technical challenge. There are only a handful of companies around the world – no more than six, says Palacios-Berraquero – that can reliably and controllably either emit or detect single photons. Nu Quantum is hoping to do both.The company was spun out of research at Cambridge University’s Cavendish Lab. Palacios-Berraquero had studied physics as an undergraduate and been drawn to the beauty of the interactions between light and matter.
Nu Quantum has won £3.6m in government grants, and has just started working with BT, Airbus and other partners to test potential uses for its components. In September 2020 it closed a £2.1m seed round which will help fuel rapid growth and a move into a state of the art photonics lab in Cambridge.
The first product – set for launch in 2022 – will be a quantum random number generator, which will take advantage of the quantum nature of single photons to generate truly random numbers.
There are potential applications for video games, gambling, cloud security and communication – where random numbers are used to generate the keys that scramble encrypted messages. The technology could also play a role in distributing those keys – Nu Quantum is working with BT on a pilot that will generate, emit and detect quantum keys and make telecoms more secure. “