Chinese engineers reportedly have developed will host a new quantum-based communications platform that is truly immune to hacking–a potential game-changer for the world’s communications systems if true. This quantum messaging system will have an initial user base of 200 high-ranking Chinese government officials, defense leaders, and financial officers in the eastern Chinese city of Jinan and will likely go into commercial use in August.
“We plan to use the network for national defense, finance and other fields, and hope to spread it out as a pilot that if successful, can be used across China and the whole world,” Zhou Fei, assistant director of Jinan Institute of Quantum Technology, told the Financial Times.
Quantum communications’ message transmissions exhibit quantum entanglement, a phenomenon by which two or more sub-atomic particles affect each other no matter how far away they are from each other. This makes it much more secure than standard communications transmissions, since there are no streams of data passing through space for hackers to intercept.
The new Chinese system sends its messages in particles of light. If an outside party attempts to hack into the system, the particles’ quantum nature will all immediately change and destroy the message.
China laid out crucial groundwork last August when it launched the world’s first quantum communications satellite, Micius. Chinese researchers reported last month that they had established a quantum entanglement between a particle in this satellite and another down on Earth’s surface.
These efforts put China far ahead of the United States or Europe on quantum communications. Anton Zeilinger, a University of Vienna quantum physicist, told the BBC that he had tried unsuccessfully to convince the European Union to invest in quantum encrypted communications back in 2004. Other US researchers have warned the U.S. government that it risks losing ground in space to a surging China.