Artur Ekert wins Micius Quantum Prize 2019

CQT's Director is among the inaugural winners of the award, named for a Chinese ancient philosopher and worth one-million Chinese Yuan
29 April 2019

CQT's Director Artur Ekert is one of the pioneers of quantum cryptography, a technique for secure communication. Image credit: Dagomir Kaszlikowski.

CQT's Director Artur Ekert is one of six winners of the Micius Quantum Prize 2019. The prize, announced on 26 April, is awarded "for his invention of entanglement-based quantum key distribution, entanglement swapping, and entanglement purification."

The Micius Quantum Foundation, named for the Chinese ancient philosopher and scientist 墨子, was established in China with support from private entrepreneurs.

“China is making great investments and advances in quantum technology. I appreciate that the Micius Quantum Foundation has established prizes to recognise the scientific work that laid the foundations for today’s emerging technologies,” said Artur, who is also a Lee Kong Chian Centennial Professor at NUS. The award is worth one million Chinese Yuan (about S$200,000).

Artur invented entanglement-based quantum key distribution (QKD) in 1991 when he was a PhD student. Entanglement-based QKD is a technique to generate encryption keys for secure communication that is resistant to all known and future computational hacks. QKD also offers the ability to detect the presence of third parties or “eavesdroppers”.

His 1991 paper “Quantum Cryptography Based on Bell Theorem” published in Physical Review Letters is the most cited paper in the field of quantum cryptography and was chosen by the editors of the Physical Review Letters as one of their “milestone letters”.

The technique is now being developed for commercial application. For example, CQT is working with Singtel to do entanglement-based QKD over deployed fibre in Singapore, and is developing quantum communication satellites in a collaboration with RALSpace in the UK towards a global quantum network. The Centre also has a collaboration with the Infocomm Media Development Authority in Singapore to build local capabilities in quantum technologies, including pilot QKD trials.

Other winners of the Micius Quantum Prize 2019 are also recognised for contributions to quantum communications. They are Stephen Wiesner, Charles H. Bennett, Gilles Brassard, Jian-Wei Pan and Anton Zeilinger. The winners of the Micius Quantum Prize 2018 were announced simultaneously. These prizes, focused on contributions to quantum computing, were awarded to Ignacio Cirac, David Deutsch, Peter Shor, Peter Zoller, Rainer Blatt and David Wineland. Ignacio is a member of CQT's Scientific Advisory Board, and David Wineland is a former member.

The prizes will be presented in a ceremony at the International Conference on Emerging Quantum Technologies in Hefei, China, in September.

See more coverage at NUS News.

Image credit: Micius Prize Office.