[ASC-media] ANU Media Statement: EUREKA PRIZE FOR SECURE INFORMATION BREAKTHROUGH

Jane O'Dwyer jane.odwyer at anu.edu.au
Tue Aug 22 05:33:10 CEST 2006



**** STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 9PM TUESDAY 22 AUGUST 2006****
EUREKA PRIZE FOR SECURE INFORMATION BREAKTHROUGH
One of Australia's top science prizes has been awarded to researchers
based at The Australian National University who have developed a fast
and totally secure way to transmit information using laser beams.

The $10,000 Eureka Prize for Scientific Research was tonight given to
the team based at the ANU Department of Physics for its quantum
cryptography breakthrough, which uses light to convey data that is
impervious to hackers and eavesdroppers.

"This award is testament to the ingenuity of these young researchers. I
congratulate them for developing a technology that will place Australia
at the forefront of this exciting field," ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor
Ian Chubb said. 

The technology developed at ANU in collaboration with theorists from the
University of Queensland enables two parties, a sender and a receiver,
to generate a secret electronic "key".  This key can be used by the
sender to encrypt a message that only the receiver with the matching key
can decrypt. 

 "Where traditional cryptography is based on complex mathematics, we
instead use the laws of physics to guarantee communication security,"
explains team leader Dr Ping Koy Lam, who also won a Eureka Prize in
2003 for his outreach activities on teleportation research.

The ability to guarantee information security would be of great benefit
to government and the corporate sector. The researchers are currently
collaborating with the Department of Defence, as well as working towards
the commercialisation of their technology for other clients.

"Although several groups around the world have quantum cryptographic
technology, our group was one of the first in the world to demonstrate
the transmission of a completely secret key via bright laser beams and
common optics," said Dr Thomas Symul.  

"We recognise that there may be challenges along the way, but we've
demonstrated that the technology works from end to end, and are
confident of developing a viable commercial form. The Eureka Prize is a
further validation of our efforts," said Vikram Sharma, researcher and
CEO elect of QuintessenceLabs, the commercial spin-off of this research.


Other researchers involved in the breakthrough include PhD candidate
Andrew Lance from ANU, and Professor Timothy Ralph and PhD candidate
Christian Weedbrook from the University of Queensland.

More info: Dr Ping Koy Lam 02 6125 8378, 0414 839 612
Mr Vikram Sharma 02 6125 3523, 0414 863 663
Dr Thomas Symul 02 6125 3523, 0431 928 592
ANU Media Office: Simon Couper 02 6125 4171, 0416 249 241


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