25 February 2020
CST Global develops QKD emitter and detector technologies for unhackable network communications
As part of a UK government-funded project, III-V optoelectronic foundry Compound Semiconductor Technologies Global Ltd (CST Global) of Glasgow, Scotland, UK (a subsidiary of Sweden’s Sivers IMA Holdings AB) has developed quantum key distribution (QKD) emitter and detector technologies, which can enable totally secure network communications. Suiting mission-critical, client-server applications (where unbreakable security codes prevent hacking and malicious attack), QKD can be applied to existing IT infrastructures and offers a high-security data transmission option within the rapidly expanding optical communications market (within which the market for edge-emitting lasers specifically is growing from $1.385bn in 2018 to $3.397bn by 2024, estimates Yole Developpement).
Developed as part of CST Global’s core competence in quantum technologies, QKD is a result of CST Global’s involvement in the Quantum Ring Single Photon LED (QR-SPLED) government-funded project and the ‘Single Photon Infrared Detectors for Quantum Systems’ project with Amythest research and Lancaster University.
QKD requires a single-photon quantum light source (QLS) to transmit data and a single-photon detector (SPD) to receive it. CST Global has both QLS and SPD technologies developed to microscale, through government-funded projects. The SPD receiver also operates at room temperature, instead of at the impractical cryogenic temperatures of previous solutions.
“High-security authentication of client-server sessions in today’s IT infrastructures are encrypted via a secure HTTPS key server,” notes CST Global’s chief technology officer Andrew McKee. “CST Global’s QKD solution will also do this, however it can encrypt every single packet of data within a session, in real time, making it significantly more secure,” he adds. “However, QKD’s speed allows direct and it will detect tamper attempts, aborting ‘suspect’ sessions. This makes QKD-based network security totally unhackable.”
Operating at room temperature, CST Global’s QKD solution is potentially small enough, cheap enough and practical enough for deployment in PC, server or smartphone applications. The firm is actively seeking a commercial partner interested in developing a dedicated nanoscale chip for widespread use.