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Space: The final frontier for coded data?

Physicist aims to test tiny device on nanosatellite

Published on Oct 14, 2013 8:04 AM
Dr Alexander Ling with the quantum entanglement device he and his team developed. He is in talks with the National University of Singapore and European space conglomerate QB50 to piggyback their space missions and launch his experiment. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

A space experiment slightly larger than a sandwich tucked into a nanosatellite could change the way encrypted data is sent around the globe.

This is what Singaporean physicist Alexander Ling is hoping to achieve with the miniature experiment he developed with his team.

"This is the first step to extending quantum cryptography over global distances," said the 37-year-old from the Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT) here. "It is a long way down the road, but we could even use it to protect electronic transactions for the man in the street."

Quantum cryptography, or the transmission of secrets using light particles, has been used by several European banks.

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Background story

What is quantum cryptography

  • Quantum cryptography is the transmission of secrets using light particles.
  • For now, its use is restricted to short distances of a few kilometres because the light particles, or photons, are mostly lost when travelling through very long optical cables.
  • Several European banks are already using it.
  • Singaporean physicist Alexander Ling is trying to extend the reach of quantum cryptography by transmitting "entangled" light particles from space.