USC ISI’s QLIlab is using quantum physics to help usher in a new level of communications security

The earth being connected by the internet

As life gets more digital, the need for highly secure communications is becoming more important. Telecommunications, which is what keeps us all connected in the modern world, is much more vulnerable to cyber attacks compared to other industries like banking and retail.

So how can we make communications more secure?

The Lab for Quantum Limited Information (QLIlab) is answering this question through developing technology that uses quantum physics to boost telecommunications security. The project is led by PI Arunkumar Jagannathan, physicist at USC’s Information Sciences Institute (ISI) and co-PI Jonathan Habif, Research Lead at ISI and Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at USC.

Funded by the US Department of Defense (DoD) as part of its Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP), the project will help expand the capabilities of QLIlab into new areas in quantum information sciences.

“We are building a flexible quantum-limited sensing testbed that’s geared towards performing cutting edge quantum information experiments,” Jagannathan explained. “The newly developed capabilities, as result of this DoD award, will also help our lab to train the next generation quantum workforce.”

The QLIlab team will conduct their experiments using entangled photons, which is when two linked particles share properties with each other, with the measurement of one particle’s properties mysteriously influencing the other no matter the distance between them.

From the Astronomical to the Atomic

A foundational area of science, physics is the study of matter, energy, motion and force. One of the most exciting branches of physics is quantum mechanics, which can be as puzzling as it is fascinating.

As Jagannathan noted, classical physics can explain macroscopic phenomenon that happens in the world we experience. “It can explain, for example, the behavior of a tennis ball, such as its position in real world (e.g., 42nd street in Boston, MA)” he said.

Read the full story on USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s website