14 December 2015 AXA chair for ICFO

Prof. Antonio Acín

AXA Research Fund Selects ICFO for a Chair on Quantum Cryptography to Prevent Data Hacking. The AXA Research Fund has awarded to ICFO a Chair, which is both permanent and pioneering on a global scale, for a quantum information technology project that will focus on risks associated with data privacy.

Data security has become an issue of the utmost importance in the global arena. The Snowden case, for example, not only revealed weaknesses in security protocols used to transmit data over networks but also in the trust we place in our service providers.

The AXA Research Fund was created in 2007 to boost scientific progress and discoveries that contribute to understanding and better preparing for environmental, life and socio-economic risks. With a commitment of EUR 200 million until 2018, the Fund supports 449 projects led by researchers of 50 nationalities, working in 230 universities in 32 countries.

ICFO is the most recent recipient of a permanent AXA chair in Spain. The chair holder, who will lead this project for the first 5 years, is ICREA Prof. at ICFO Antonio Acín. A pioneer in the field of quantum cryptography, leader of an ICFO research group and winner of three prestigious European Research Council grants, Professor Acín studies quantum cryptography protocols that ensure the non-violability of data communications.

Through the AXA Chair, ICFO will conduct research focused on developing and implementing encryption systems based on quantum devices, with the aim of 100% secure data communications. Based on the use of quantum particles, these devices are able to code information in a way that is impossible to hack. As Prof. Acín states, \"To break these protocols would be to go against the laws of quantum physics, which is something that has never been achieved.\"

Prof. Acín joins the AXA Research Fund’s scientific community in Spain, which already includes internationally recognized researchers such as Mariano Barbacid, Joan Esteban, Albert Marcet, Ben Lehner and David Rios.