The new quantum approach could allow for a more secure transmission of information in commercial devices.  

A team of physics researchers at Wits have broken records by improving the information capacity and speed within a quantum secret sharing scheme, by increasing the possible number of dimensions and participants. The research was published in international journal, Laser & Photonics Reviews on July 29, 2020. 

Isaac Nape (27), a member of the research team and PhD student in the school of physics said, a variant of this communication system is already being used in areas that require secure information sharing, such as the military and banks. However, the Wits team’s approach could improve on the current systems.  

Nape says, “In the future, this will hopefully replace the way we encrypt our information and make it harder to decode.” 

Quantum secret sharing refers to the process of sharing information securely through complex patterns of light. A message or secret, known as a key, is created by the sender, and portions of the key or secret are then distributed among a group of people. In this way, collaboration is required for the secret to be fully revealed.  

The Wits research team was able to increase dimensionality from three to 11, and the number of participants from three to 10. 

Dr Izak Snyman, a senior lecturer in the school of physics at Wits, explains dimensionality and how, by expanding the alphabet of characters used to write the message, the team was able to “put the same amount of information in a shorter message, and thus speed up the communication”. 

Additionally, the new approach could possibly be implemented in commercial devices, such as cellphones and computers.  

The lead author of the project and PhD student in the school of physics, Jonathan Pinnell (27), told Wits Vuvuzela, “The ambition is for our approach to eventually become embedded in the communications infrastructure so that consumers can benefit.”

The record-breaking approach took only two months to establish and was subsequently published in Laser and Photonics Reviews, a highly-ranked optical science journal with an impact factor of 9.630, (which indicates a high level of yearly citations and reliability), on Wednesday, July 29.  

 FEATURED IMAGE: The new quantum approach could lead to implementation in commercial devices, like cellphones, and ensure the safer transmission of information. Photo: Catia De Castro.