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DRDO, IIT Delhi successfully demonstrate Quantum Key Distribution test

Source : The Indian Express

DRDO, IIT Delhi successfully demonstrate Quantum Key Distribution test
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In yet another milestone in indigenous Quantum technology, a joint team of scientists from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, successfully demonstrated Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) link between Prayagraj and Vindhyachal in Uttar Pradesh, a distance of more than 100 kilometres.

QKD is primarily a mechanism to undertake secure communication which utilises a cryptographic protocol involving various components of quantum mechanics. The technology enables two communicating sides to come up with random secret keys shared by both of them and known exclusively to them, so only they can use it to encrypt and decrypt messages, thus achieving a very highly-secure communication. 

In December 2020, the technology was tested for communication between two DRDO facilities in Hyderabad—the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) and Research Centre Imarat (RCI)—over a distance of 12 km.

A press statement from the Ministry of Defence said on the latest test, “This technological breakthrough was achieved over a commercial-grade optical fibre already available in the field. With this success, the country has demonstrated indigenous technology of secure key transfer for bootstrapping military-grade communication security key hierarchy. The performance parameters have been measured and have been found to be repetitively within the reported international standards at sifted key rates of up to 10 kHz. This technology will enable security agencies to plan a suitable quantum communication network with indigenous technology backbone.” 

Secure communications are vital for defence and strategic agencies across the globe and the distribution of encryption keys is the crucial factor for it. Sharing of keys over the air or wired links requires encryption, which in turn requires encryption keys to be pre-shared. Quantum-based communication offers a robust solution to sharing the keys securely. DRDO has undertaken multiple projects for the development of this technology. 

DRDO scientists have said that the work being done on QKD technology at the organisation will be used to enable start-ups and small and medium enterprises in the domain of quantum information technologies. The technology is expected to help define standards and formulate crypto technology-related policies that can use the QKD system in a unified Cipher Policy Committee (CPC) framework in the country for more secure “key management” for current and future military cryptographic systems, said senior officials.

DRDO Chairman Dr G Satheesh Reddy congratulated the scientists and faculty of DRDO and IIT Delhi team for the successful demonstration, calling it a shining example of synergetic research between two establishments. IIT Delhi Director Professor Rangan Banerjee also congratulated the faculty of IIT Delhi and scientists of DRDO for the joint effort.

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