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Quantum Technology for Securing Maritime Communications

Context:

RRI (Raman Research Institute) has inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Navy on Quantum Technologies to develop secure maritime communications.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. Quantum technology
  3. Quantum Communication
  4. Quantum Technology in Maritime Communication

Details:

  • Raman Research Institute (RRI) Agreement with Indian Navy for Quantum Key Distribution:
  • RRI is an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in India.
  • RRI’s Quantum Information and Computing (QuIC) lab will lead the research efforts towards developing Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) techniques.
  • The research aims to enable the Indian Navy to use QKD for securing free space communications.
  • The agreement is part of the Indian Navy’s efforts towards enhancing its technological capabilities and securing its communications.

Quantum technology:

  • Two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time, according to classical physics (based on Newtonian mechanics)
  • It was thought until the early twentieth century that this was a fundamental physics law that was followed by everything in nature
  • However, scientists began to look into particles like atoms, electrons, and light waves that did not appear to follow these laws.
  • The subject of quantum mechanics was founded by Max Planck, Neils Bohr, and Albert Einstein in an attempt to investigate the “quirky” principles that did bind such particles.

About:

  • It is a type of technology (developed in the early twentieth century) that operates on the principles of quantum mechanics – the physics of subatomic particles, such as quantum entanglement and quantum superposition.
  • As a result, it is based on phenomena exhibited by microscopic particles (such as photons, electrons, atoms, and so on) that differ significantly from how normal macroscopic objects behave.

There are Four domains of Quantum Technology:

  • Quantum communication
  • Quantum simulation
  • Quantum computation
  • Quantum sensing and metrology

The underlying principles of quantum technology are as follows:

Quantum entanglement (QE):
  • Quantum entanglement occurs when two atoms are connected or entangled despite their separation
  • If one atom’s properties change, the other changes instantly, and quantum mechanics observe these changes in properties.
  • It improves communication security by using quantum-protected encrypted keys, and entangled atoms can be used to detect whether data transmission has been compromised.
Quantum entanglement:
  • Quantum superposition is the theory that subatomic particles can exist in multiple states at the same time.
  • Quantum computers are a practical application of this principle.
  • Whereas digital computers store data as bits (binary of 0 and 1), quantum computers use qubits, which can be either a 1 or a 0 at the same time.
  • This superposition generates a nearly infinite set of options, allowing for extremely fast calculations.
Applications:

Quantum technology promises to improve a wide range of everyday devices, including:

  • Improved navigation and timing systems.
  • Improved communication security.
  • Improved healthcare imaging through quantum sensing (using quantum phenomenon to perform a measurement of a physical quantity).
  • Quantum computers provide more powerful computing.
  • Improved disaster management through better prediction, computing, and so on.
  • To comprehend biological phenomena such as smell and consciousness, as well as the spread of pandemics such as Covid-19, etc.

Quantum Communication:

  • Quantum communication is a subfield of quantum technology that aims to develop secure communication systems using quantum mechanics principles.
  • It uses a different approach to encryption compared to traditional methods.
  • Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) is the most common example of quantum communication that generates an almost uncrackable encryption key between two parties.
Mechanism of Quantum Communication:
  • Encoding Information: Information is encoded on qubits, which can exist in multiple states simultaneously, known as superposition.
  • Transmitting Information: Qubits are sent over a quantum communication channel, such as a fiber optic cable or a free-space link, usually one at a time.
  • Receiving Information: The receiving party measures the qubits with a quantum measurement device that collapses the superposition state, revealing the encoded information.
  • Detecting Eavesdropping: Any attempt to eavesdrop on the communication disturbs the quantum state of the qubit, making it instantly detectable, known as the “no-cloning theorem”.
  • Establishing a Secret Key: By exchanging qubits, the transmitting and receiving parties can establish a secret key that can be used with conventional encryption algorithms to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of transmitted information.

Quantum Technology in Maritime Communication:

  • Quantum encryption can provide secure communication between ships and shore stations, making it difficult for hackers to intercept or eavesdrop on the communication.
  • Quantum entanglement can enable faster communication between ships and shore stations over long distances, which could be particularly useful in remote areas with limited traditional communication methods.
  • Quantum sensors can improve navigation accuracy by measuring the Earth’s magnetic field with high precision, helping ships navigate through narrow channels, avoid obstacles, and improve overall safety.
  • Quantum computers can run complex simulations of weather patterns, providing accurate and timely information to mariners about impending storms or other dangerous weather conditions.

-Source: The Hindu, PIB


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