Scientists to announce quantum chip technology breakthrough

New chip could help tighten up security of mobile payments, researcher claims.

Science picture

Bristol University scientists look set to debut a new type of quantum chip, which could offer mobile devices greater protection from hackers.

The silicon-based chip will be unveiled at the British Science Festival in Aberdeen this week and has been developed by an international team of scientists working at the University of Bristol.

The technology works by manipulating light particles to perform calculations, whereas traditional silicon chips rely on electrical currents.

According to a report in the Financial Times, the quantum chip is thousands of times smaller than silicon chips and is manufactured using similar methods, which could pave the way for the technology's mass production.

As a result, it is claimed quantum chip-based processors could be integrated with conventional microelectronic circuits within "three-to-five" years.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Antti Niskanen, research leader at Nokia Research Centre in Cambridge, hailed the security implications of the new technology.

"Understanding quantum photonics opens exciting prospects for further research into security, sensors and information processing," he said.

"Security of personal data, the ability for a device to sense the world around it and the ability to quickly interpret this information all offer future benefits for mobile device users."

Mark Thompson, deputy director of Bristol's Centre for Quantum Photonics, said the technology is also compatible with broadband networks.

"The global communications network, including the internet, is powered by fibre optics which use light to move information at high speed between countries, cities and buildings," Thompson told the Financial Times.

"Our devices are directly compatible...they talk the same language."

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