Last week, the first-ever “quantum communication” took place between the presidents of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Austria Academy of Sciences through a video call.
Declaring the event the beginning of a “new era,” the CAS touted its new 2,000 km “quantum fiber link” between Beijing and Shanghai that allows communications between the two cities that cannot be hacked. The university’s statement read:
This is the world's longest and most sophisticated quantum link, and it will serve as the backbone connecting quantum networks in four cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Jinan in Shandong province and Hefei in Anhui province, said Pan Jianwei, China's leading quantum physicist.
During the link's launch in Beijing, Bai Chunli, the president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, made video phone calls using the quantum link with scientists and government officials in Jinan, Hefei and Shanghai, congratulating them for their hard work.
Using Micius, the world's first quantum communication satellite, which was launched by China last year, Bai also made the world's first intercontinental quantum video call with Anton Zelinger, the president of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, on Friday.
Micius has been integrated into the Beijing-Shanghai link, creating the world's first space-to-ground integrated quantum network capable of sending messages via landlines and from space, Bai said.
Zelinger said, "This begins a new era of international quantum communication. I would like to congratulate my Chinese friends in their achievements, and I hope other countries can follow and together build a global quantum internet."
Nie Jiming, a quantum researcher at the CAS, said quantum communication uses subatomic particles such as photons－individual particles of light－to send data using quantum mechanics. This creates “the most secure” connection because those particles cannot be destroyed or duplicated, and eavesdropping can be immediately detected.
China has been experimenting with quantum communication for more than a decade, and used it to conduct planning for the military parade for the 60th anniversary of the nation’s founding in 2009. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China used a quantum network to transmit data within Beijing, becoming the first Chinese bank to use the technology two years ago.
The U.S., Japan, and the United Kingdom are all known to be experimenting with quantum communication, as well.