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Toshiba, Tohoku Univ. use quantum cryptography to transmit genome data

Toshiba Corp. senior scientist Hideaki Sato, center, and others explain about their achievements in research on quantum cryptography in Tokyo's Shinagawa Ward on Jan. 8, 2020. (Mainichi/Mirai Nagira)

TOKYO -- Japanese electronics giant Toshiba Corp. and Tohoku University announced that they have succeeded in transmitting the full genome sequence data of 24 people using quantum cryptography, which is theoretically an unbreakable encryption method.

According to Toshiba, they were able to transmit the world's largest data, totaling over hundreds of gigabytes, at the fastest speed, to a location about 7 kilometers away.

Research on quantum computing using quantum mechanics is accelerating worldwide. The realization of a quantum computer would dramatically improve the calculation speed, and encryption methods currently used online are expected to be easily overcome. That's where quantum cryptography comes into play.

In principle, it is impossible to break this new method as the quantum state changes and does not work anymore as a cryptograph once an outsider attempts to read the encoded data.

Though it took about three days to analyze genome sequence data, information was sent one by one as soon as they were analyzed, and all information was transmitted within two minutes after the completion of data analysis.

(Japanese original by Mayumi Nobuta, Science & Environment News Department)

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