Chinese satellite Micius opens path for ultralong distance global quantum communications network

Launched in 2016, some few days ago succeed to enable quantum communications beteween Vienna and Beijing some days ago

Eva González Bejing (PRC), 24 January, 2018

The Chinese quantum satellite Known as Micius (nicknamed after a chinese philosopher) proved successful to facilitating quantum-secured communications between two continents (Europe -Austria- and Asia -China-).

The satellite created a secret key between both countries at points located some 7,600 km away from each other, enabling encrypted communications almost impossible to hack.

Quantum communication uses subatomic particles such as photons(the individual particles of light) to send data using quantum mechanics.
These particles cannot be destroyed or duplicated. As detecting the photons disturbs their quantum states, hackers cannot intercept the keys without being detected.

Some images and a video conference were transmitted and held respectively between Bejing and Vienna during the experiment carried out just some few weeks ago.

This achievement was reached thanks to the joint work of a team of scientists from China and Austria.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences operates Micius as well as the ground stations in China. The University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Sciences run the satellite’s European receiving stations.

Micius, whose actual name is Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS) was launched in 2016 with the first quantum key distribution from Miccius to Earth and first quantum telecommunication from the ground to the satellite achieved in 2017.

In July last year, Chinese head scientist Pan Jianwei and his team at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei reported that they had smashed the record for quantum teleportation.

Chinese father of quantum communications, Pan Jianwei. Chinese Academy of Sciences.

They transmitted for the first time the quantum state of a photon on Earth 1,400 kilometers to a photon on an orbiting satellite (Micius).

Last September, the team succeed using Micius to beam photons to Beijing and Vienna, generating quantum encryption keys that allowed teams in these cities to video-chat with complete security.

Longest ever quantum line opened in China in 2017

Also in September 2017 China launched a 2,000-kilometer quantum fiber link connecting Beijing and Shanghai on Friday, allowing unhackable communication between the cities.

This is the world’s longest and most sophisticated quantum link, and it will serve as the backbone connecting quantum networks in four cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Jinan in Shandong province and Hefei in Anhui province.

Micius has been integrated into the Beijing-Shanghai link, creating the world’s first space-to-ground integrated quantum network able to send messages via landlines and from space.

Use of quantum communications in China dates back to 2009

In 2009, military officials used a quantum communication hotline for the logistics of the military parade for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

In 2015, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China used a quantum network to transmit data within Beijing, becoming the first Chinese bank to use the technology.

Image over the headline.-Micius first ultra long quantum communications transfer between Vienna and Beijing. © Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Related external links:

Quantum cryptography (video animation)by the Centre for quantum technologies

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IBM starts off commercialisation of universal quantum computing systems

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