June 6, 2022

UCalgary graduate students accelerate online security with quantum physics

Quantum cryptography research offers solution to securing digital information
Jordan Smith
Graduate student Jordan Smith is reimagining cyber security. Jordan Witzel

UCalgary physicists expect that quantum computers will soon enable hackers to easily steal information that is currently considered safe by today’s encryption standards. A team of graduate students in Dr. Daniel Oblak, PhD’s Quantum Cloud Lab is on the case, working on a novel approach to quantum key distribution. Jordan Smith and Anuj Sethia believe their work in quantum cryptography offers a solution to making digital information more secure.

“We use single quantum particles, whether they be atoms or electrons or photons of light, and we encode information that is relevant to our sensitive information,” explains Smith. “The principles of quantum mechanics essentially dictate that that state of that quantum particle changes as soon as somebody interferes with it, and that’s the primary concept on which we're building this quantum cryptographic system.”

Smith first graduated from the Haskayne School of Business in 2011 with a commerce degree. He went on to found and manage several small startups before deciding to return to UCalgary in 2017 to pursue physics. Smith is now taking the lead on the potential commercialization of the quantum cryptography work, which includes a prototype of hardware and architecture grounded in quantum mechanics.