(Imperial.ac.uk) Imperial College London’s security institute recently hosted a think-tank style event on how quantum technology will impact national security. Stakeholders from academia, industry and government were on hand to discuss some of the implications.
First discussion centered on the serious threat quantum computers pose to the cryptographic systems which underpin much of our current computer security. Experts at the University of Waterloo have calculated that there is a 1 in 7 chance of these crypto primitives being affected by quantum attacks in 2026, and a 1 in 2 chance by 2031.
There are many other applications of quantum theory in national security which are much closer to realization, however.
Quantum sensors is one such category with multiple use-cases on the horizon. By taking advantage of the exquisite accuracy of quantum technology for measuring when a photon hits a sensor, you can develop sensing systems to visualise and track objects which are around corners, and out of the field of view.
Ghost imaging is another quantum technology which allows the visualisation of objects outside of the field of view.
Quantum sensing can also be used for navigation. Most navigation relies on Global Navigation Satellite Systems such as GPS. However, these can be locally jammed by inexpensive equipment, can be blocked by large structures, and can suffer global blackouts as shown by the recent malfunction in the EU’s Galileo system.