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Singapore & Oxford universities partner for quantum communication mission
Tue, 5th Dec 2023

The National University of Singapore aerospace spinout, SpeQtral, has revealed a partnership with Quantum Dice, a University of Oxford spinout company, for a significant upcoming satellite-based quantum communications mission. SpeQtral recently obtained government funding in Singapore to implement Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) networks across the nation. This collaboration signifies a commercially pioneering mission, expected to lay down the path for the future of global quantum secure communication services. It will also showcase Quantum Dice's first-ever product suited for space, named the Zenith Quantum Random Number Generator (QRNG).

Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) solutions are growing popular in numerous countries, as they utilise principles of quantum mechanics to securely distribute encryption keys which are vital for digital security. Quantum Random Number Generators (QRNGs), supplied to this partnership by Quantum Dice, are a fundamental part of a QKD network. For instance, when the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced in 2022 that a globally used Cisco ASA firewall system was vulnerable due to a faulty random number generator, it pointed out a significant gap in digital security. This breach happened twice in five years and subsequently compromised encryption, as it was a universal problem affecting several entities, including Microsoft and the Taiwanese government.

SpeQtral's SpeQtral-1 satellite builds on the company's existing SpeQtre mission and technologies demonstrated earlier on the 2019 launched SpooQy-1 CubeSat. Featuring Quantum Dice's Zenith QRNG, it utilises SpeQtral's entanglement and weak coherent quantum payloads, along with a laser communications system accommodated within a 16U CubeSat. SpeQtral-1 will pioneer various quantum-secure protocols in a compact quantum-safe key distribution satellite, hence potentially establishing SpeQtral-1 as a leader in this field.

Crafted to fulfil high-rate, robust, and low Size, Weight, and Power consumption (SWaP) solution requirements, Quantum Dice's Zenith QRNG is the first-ever product from the company to be designed for space. With its proprietary DISCTM protocol, and a data rate of 200 to 1000 Mbps, it is a pioneering benchmark in secure quantum communication in space. According to Marko von der Leyen, Quantum Dice CTO, the Zenith device has been designed to endure harsh space environments without compromising on the security standards of the continuous live verification of quantum randomness. "We are proud to be a partner on the SpeQtral mission with our ultra-fast Gbps-class system, supporting an important domain of future communications."

Co-Founder and CEO of SpeQtral, Lum Chune Yang, highlighted SpeQtral-1’s key role in determining the future of secure communication in space, enabled by Quantum Dice's innovative technology. He further stated that the mission intends to redefine the possibilities of secure communication and orbiting satellites, delivering a mix of quantum-safe key distribution capabilities, and is a significant milestone in their journey.