Tamper-indicating Quantum Seals

ORNL Team Members: Travis Humble, Brian Williams, Toby Flynn, Laura Ann Anderson, Dave Richardson

CSMD, CSED, and MSSED researchers have developed a new technology for the technical verification of non-proliferation treaties. With support from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the CSMD-led team has deployed quantum information concepts to detect when an intruder tampers with a sealed targets. This is a particular concern for treaty inspectors that need to confirm that the containment and surveillance of a special nuclear material has been uninterrupted. The novelty of the ORNL approach is to use quantum entanglement, a quantum mechanical feature that describes how two spatially disparate systems can exhibit seemingly strong correlations in their behaviors. The ORNL team has now leveraged those effects alongside the no-cloning principle to detect when an intruder is present, thus closing a vulnerability in existing tamper-indication technology.

Unlike classical correlations, which can be both observed and copied, the non-local quantum correlations used by the ORNL team can not be copied and any attempts at doing so destroys the entanglement. By monitoring for the presence of entanglement, the team was able to demonstrate a high probability of detection at a very low false alarm rate. In addition, recent development have laid the ground work for making these quantum verification measurements in real time using customized FPGA-based data collection systems.

Result from this work are featured in a special August issue of IEEE COMSOC Magazine on Quantum Communications. T. S. Humble "Quantum Security for the Physical Layer", IEEE COMSOC Magazine, vol. 51, page 56 (2013)


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