Multi-million award to scale up uni lab’s cyber-crime solution research
4 Dec 2022
Heriot-Watt University academic Mehul Malik has been awarded £2.5 million from the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) for his research into quantum technologies with the capacity to provide next-level defence against cyber-crime.
The award is one of just four provided by the RAE Chair in Emerging Technologies programme. Totalling £10 million over ten years and funded by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the programme is designed to offer support for up to a decade for projects focused on emerging technologies with marked potential to offer economic and social benefits.
Said Professor Malik (pictured): “To be recognised in this way is a privilege but also underlines the enormous potential of the technology I am developing to benefit our society in the near future.
“We have made tremendous strides in fundamental quantum science in recent years and I am particularly excited about the opportunities offered by the Royal Academy of Engineering to help us translate this work into disruptive applications."
Malik’s work seeks to make use of the properties of quantum entanglement – by which two particles such as light photons remain strongly connected over enormous distances.
The object is to develop ultra-secure communication to make it near-impossible for criminals and hostile agencies to access highly sensitive data.
A key challenge is the technology’s susceptibility to background noise. Malik and his team are seeking to create advanced methods to control the quantum structure of light in space and time.
Explained Malik: “My research aims to harness these high-dimensional properties of light to maximise the information capacity of a quantum network and simultaneously enable it to operate in a noisy, real-world environment.
Support from project partners BT Group and the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab would enable him to translate fundamental advances developed in the lab, enabling them to have a direct impact on society, he added
RAE President Professor Sir Jim McDonald commented: “The Academy places huge importance on supporting excellence in engineering and sometimes the key to engineers fulfilling their potential in tackling global challenges is the gift of time and continuity of support to bring the most disruptive and impactful ideas to fruition.”