Tang to Lead Team as Part of NSF Initiative for Secure Communication


Hong Tang, the Llewellyn West Jones, Jr. Professor of Electrical Engineering & Physics, has been named by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as the leader of a team of researchers for an initiative designed to advance the technology needed for secure communication over long distances.

The NSF Office of Emerging Frontiers and Multidisciplinary Activities (EFMA) announced the effort Monday. It's the first engineering-led research cohort of its kind.

Tang said the team, which also includes researchers from Princeton University and BBN Technologies, will be collaborating with Prof. Liang Jiang in the Applied Physics department to develop quantum repeaters using solid state devices. Tang's lab will focus on building a high-efficiency quantum interface so that solid-state devices can communicate remotely through optical fibers without the loss of quantum information. Jiang's group will look into efficient algorithm to extend the range of communications.

"Yale has a very strong program in quantum science and technology, particularly in the area of microwave superconducting quantum computation," Tang said. "The NSF funding will allow us to develop quantum devices that operate at optical frequencies and are more suitable for room temperature quantum information processing. We are thankful to NSF for recognizing our strengths in this emerging area of research. I look forward to a fruitful collaboration with our team members at Princeton University and BBN technologies."

NSF officials said the cohort was organized "as the demand for cybersecurity increases." As part of the effort, scientists and engineers envision novel communication systems made secure with the help of photons in pre-determined quantum states.

Jiang said one of the long-term goals of the NSF award is to develop technology that will enable secure quantum communications on a global scale.

"My theory group at Yale will collaborate with the researchers at Yale, Princeton, and BBN to develop efficient quantum repeater protocols compatible with the rapidly developing technology, as well as explore the mental limits on quantum networks and novel schemes to attain those fundamental limits," Jiang said.

Interdisciplinary teams involving a total of 15 institutions will perform potentially transformative, fundamental research for Advancing Communication Quantum Information Research in Engineering (ACQUIRE), a research topic in the NSF Directorate for Engineering Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation program.

ACQUIRE researchers will confront major challenges in a four-year quest to demonstrate an engineered quantum communication system on a chip, operating at room temperature with low energy in a fiber optic network with quantum-entangled photons. If successful, their results will begin to realize the hardware needed for secure and efficient quantum communication to become a reality. The findings from the ACQUIRE projects will also advance quantum sensing and computing.

"A growing interest in quantum photonics and new understanding of quantum physics and nanomaterials make this the perfect time to pursue significant engineering advances in quantum communication," said Dominique Dagenais, the NSF program director who coordinated the ACQUIRE projects.

The promise of quantum information science is described in the July 2016 National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) report, Advancing Quantum Information Science: National Challenges and Opportunities. "Investments in frontier and potentially transformative fundamental science and engineering research, such as quantum communication, are essential to compete in the global innovation economy," said Sohi Rastegar, head of EFMA.