Technologies for the era of quantum computers
A few years ago, they were considered miracle machines, now we are getting closer to using them – quantum computers promise exponential performance gains over conventional computers. Bundesdruckerei is exploring the potential of this new generation of computers and developing procedures to protect existing systems from their computing power.
Calculating between zero and one
The discussion is still restricted to specialist circles, but soon quantum computers are likely to have practical relevance. The computer generation of tomorrow makes use of the laws of quantum mechanics, leaving binary systems behind. While in a classical computer every bit takes on either the value zero or one, quantum computing has a whole range of other states thanks to the principle of superposition. The behaviour of particles that underlies quantum technologies may push the boundaries of what is intuitively conceivable, but this does have implications of great consequence. That’s because the way quantum computers work enables numerous simultaneous computing processes, so that previously unsolvable tasks can be completed in the shortest possible time.
Quantum advantages and security risks
The power of quantum computing offers enormous opportunities for solving a wide range of complex problems, ranging from personnel scheduling and energy network optimization to material simulation. At the same time, quantum computing poses risks for existing security procedures: Quantum-based computing power poses risks for established encryptions which until now have been practically impossible to crack. Where even a – conventionally working – supercomputer would need hundreds of thousands of years to simply ‘try out’ encryptions, a quantum computer could crack them in no time at all. Classical security systems must be prepared for this.
Cooperation with CERN: Basic research meets IT security
Since 2019, Bundesdruckerei has been engaged in a close interdisciplinary exchange with scientists at CERN in Geneva. The focus is particularly on the question of how findings from quantum physics can be transferred to IT systems. For example, novel methods could use the quantum mechanical principle of ‘entanglement’ when generating cryptographic keys.