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Anaxa- Reimagining communication with qIoT

Pushing today’s boundaries of security and efficiency with communication in the medical industry with quantum IoT networks

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Whether it’s making a group video call, sending a message in a group chat, contacting those in a web platform, editing in a shared Google Doc, we’ve all done some sort of shared, interworking communication. Essentially, everything around you is connected.

Current industries especially within the medical field, are taking hold of the interconnection with computing devices, communicating by sending and receiving data. This is also known as the internet of things (IoT).

As we’re on our way to a more systematic and productive way of living, lots of healthcare and pharma companies are currently looking for ways to connect different systems and equipment. What especially attracts these industries to IoT is the features of real-time data and operation visibility within the manufacturing and distribution processes.

IoT Applications and Challenges

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A basic IoT network

Not only can this significantly lower research and development costs and better streamline its production, but in turn we will be able to greatly accelerate drug development and speed up the drug discovery process. We are also able to improve the administration of medicine to patients, potentially saving millions of lives when fully implemented.

There is a pretty big barrier to this though. Well, two actually. These are data security and privacy as well as data accuracy and overload.

IoT-enabled devices are able to capture data in real-time which is especially useful in the event of a medical emergency but are also extremely prone to data thefts cybercriminals compromising personal health info. The ambiguity relating to data ownership and regulation makes the misuse of IoT device data more prevalent, including with malicious botnets infiltrating the data, making fraudulent health claims and the creation of fake IDs.

In addition, there is a certain cap to the amount of data being processed. It is extremely difficult to aggregate data for necessary insights and analysis due to its non-uniformity. Since data is collected in bulk, it needs to be segregated in small chunks for proper analysis which leads to a higher chance of overloading. Overloading means imprecise accuracy for not so great results, further declining the overall precision and efficiency.

As of right now, the large-scale use of IoT devices especially in the medical field are not too dependable because of the major concerns with it. But given its potential, how can we make it so that we are able to make this feasible, let alone possible? The key here is by improving both the security risks and efficiency of IoT devices.

This is where Anaxa comes in.

Anaxa’s Mission

Anaxa is reimagining the ways that we currently communicate with quantum IoT devices.

Our mission is to help accelerate drug development and the monitoring of patients’ within the healthcare industry by pushing the boundaries of efficient and secure communication.

Our aim is to completely eliminate hospital errors by improving its communication networks, potentially saving up to 50,000 lives a year.

We want to solve these main problems:

  1. Eliminating the communication delay in hospitals and network lag in regular IoT devices
  2. Preventing any third-party intervention into the network that causes manipulation or stealing of data

Even with hospitals and pharma industries adopting different IoT devices to monitor their patients’ health as well as streamlining the manufacturing and distribution process, there is still a propagation lag from the sender to receiver which slows down the operation and makes it vulnerable to unwanted interrupters. We want to change the current ways of communication by improving measures with current IoT.

Our Approach

But how?

Our approach is by using quantum IoT devices based off of a hybrid quantum network.

The concept of IoT itself is the integration of all devices that connect to a single network. These devices or “things” can be managed from the web and in turn provide information in real time to allow immediate interaction with the people who use it. The hardware layer of the IoT device allows the interconnection of physical objects using sensors.

The basic architecture of an IoT device consists of three main stages:

  1. Devices: connected to the internet by means of their embedded sensors and actuators. They are able to sense the environment around them and gather information which is passed on to the IoT gateways.
  2. IoT gateways and data acquisition systems: collects the unprocessed data, converts it into digital streams, then filters and pre-processes in preparation for analysis. Visualization and forms of machine learning is used for further processing and enhanced analysis.
  3. Data Centers: data is transferred to data centers (cloud-based or locally installed). The data is stored and managed here, with further analysis.
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The main process involved with how information is transferred in IoT networks

In the medical industry with healthcare and pharma applications, IoT devices are commonly used for:

  1. Patient monitoring
  2. Cancer detection
  3. Smart tags for drug distribution
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Example of CareTaker’s IoT wearable that monitors blood pressure

With patient monitoring, the patient has a wearable with sensors to collect data such as blood pressure, glucose levels, pulse, etc. The data is then sent to a healthcare professional via a clinical decision support algorithm where they are immediately alerted if a problem is detected.

Cancer detection, including early predictions with breast cancer, lung cancer and heart attack are done with additional IoT wearables. Temperature sensors within a wearable are able to track changes in breast tissue temperature over time, using predictive analysis to identify and classify abnormal patterns that could indicate early stage breast cancer, where the data is then sent to a healthcare provider.

Other IoT wearables have implanted heart-rase sensors and pulse oximeters measuring oxygen levels in a patient’s blood to detect heart attacks and strokes a few days in advance.

With the smart tag IoT devices attached, it is able to use real-time data to track where the drugs are being sent as well as for maintenance while delivering. This includes sensors that regulate temperature and humidity levels.

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How a typical IoT wearable is connected to network and the information being sent to the data center

There are a few challenges associated with this though. One of these, as previously mentioned, is security. With so many nodes being added to these networks, it will provide malicious actors different attack vectors and possibilities to carry out their attacks. These may lead to:

  1. Increase in botnets
  2. Small-scale attacks that are difficult to detect
  3. Phishing attacks
  4. Decrease in user privacy

In addition, as the years go on with IoT gaining popularity this will lead to an increase in the number of devices added and a decrease in overall efficiency. Since the communication layer is tasked with many devices connected to the network involves improving the bandwidth and electromagnetic spectrum.

How do we overcome these challenges? The answer: with quantum.

Now getting into the quantum part…

The Quantum IoT Device

We propose a quantum IoT device that would have a quantum-enabled chip-sized transmitter containing a single-photon source and modulator. The data center (or where the information from the IoT device gets transferred to) would contain a chip-sized receiver with a second modulator and photon detectors. A channel would be implemented between the transmitter and receiver with a regular telecommunications fiber to transfer the data.

So how is this better than a classical network?

Quantum Key Distribution

This is because of a concept called Quantum Key Distribution (QKD). QKD implements a cryptographic protocol that enables to produce and secretly exchange a key between two distant parties (traditionally referred as Alice and Bob) in order to encrypt and decrypt messages.

The advantage of QKD is the ability of the two communicating users to detect any third party attempting to intercept or gain knowledge of the key (the adversary referred to as Eve the Eavesdropper). The information is transmitted in quantum states through quantum entanglement that is able to detect eavesdropping. If Eve attempts to eavesdrop Alice and Bob’s conversation, she must in some way measure it which produces a disruption, stopping the key from sending and ending the communication.

In this case, the device sends individual photons containing information with random polarization states to the data center, who measures them using one of the two basis states (also at random). They are now able to publicly exchange information on which bases they used as the 3rd party eavesdropper doesn’t know what result they got. Their results correlating depends on whether they choose the same or different bases.

The ones measured in different bases are thrown away and the remaining ones are used to make a key. The eavesdropper will need to measure the photons in order to intercept by sending another photon in its place. According to the no-cloning theorem, the eavesdropper cannot produce a perfect copy of the unknown quantum system. The extra photon sent would attract suspicion and therefore cancel the transaction.

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The making of a key in a QKD network between Alice and Bob

Stage One: Local-Based Network

The quantum IoT device contains photonic integrated circuits (PICs) that combine multiple optical components onto a small semiconductor chip-sized transmitter.

Quantum Transmitter

This quantum transmitter is extremely compact, scalable and power-efficient which could be easily implemented into an IoT device, as opposed to current devices relying on extremely bulky and high power demanding phase modulation elements.

The cryptographic keys are encoded in high repetition rate pulse streams using injection-locking with phase control at the laser.

The transmitter contains a quantum state encoding engine that is able to encode (randomize) multiple phase states with phase values and random numbers. This approach combines gain-switching, injection locking and quick phase modulation of the laser to generate pulses and to allow phase encoding. In order to generate the pulse trains for the phase-encoded photons, these elements are required:

  1. (2) High-bandwidth distribution feedback / DFB lasers. Arbitrary waveform generators (AWG) are used to drive the DFB lasers at high speed
  2. (1) Optical Attenuator, example: asymmetric Mach-Zehnder interferometer (AMZI)
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Structure of the quantum transmitter including the lasers, source measurement unit, phase actuator and fiber

Light then comes out of the chip onto the fiber using a spot-size converter. In addition, the radiofrequency signals are applied to master and slave laser diodes. A master laser is a single-frequency laser used for injection locking several other lasers (slave lasers).

This results in optical signals to eventually generate a pulse train that is phase-encoded. The now phase-encoded pulse stream is decoded in an optical attenuator which is integrated on a silicon-based PIC.

The radiofrequency signals from the AWG are combined with a DC (direct current) bias to drive the on-chip DFB lasers. Those DC signals are produced from a source measure unit (SMU), supplying low-noise signals to the DFB lasers and the phase actuator.

Finally, the encoded pulses of photons at the PIC are transferred out to a fiber and transmitted over the quantum channel. This is a single-photon transmitter, where the photons are transferred one at a time.

Quantum Receiver

After the photon with the encoded information is transferred over the channel, it is received by the data center with a device that has an implemented receiver.

The chip-sized receiver’s material consists of silicon oxynitride. It is made up of a photonic circuit with thermo-optic phase shifters and single photon detectors. The platform of the receiver consists of alternating layers of silicon nitride and silicon dioxide while metal layers on the top created the thermo-optic phase shifters.

Ideally, the receiver sends the input signal it got from the transmitter to the single photon detectors for key generation and to the optical attenuator or AMZI for visibility measurement. With these steps being completed, the receiver device is able to display the information sent.

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Quantum receiver chip structure

The IoT device and the receiver device would eventually act as a node that serves as the endpoints of the network. What connects the network together and allows QKD to happen is the telecommunication optical fiber.

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Example of a quantum network. The grey dashed lines are the QKD path through a fiber optics network with an IoT device connecting to the data centers

So this would work great if everything was local-based and there was only one data center with a few IoT devices. But what if you wanted to expand on this by adding in more devices and different datacenters? This may pose a problem because to a certain distance, the photons would be more likely to decohere during the transmission through the optical fibers (usually around 100 km).

How do we solve this? In order to expand the network to longer distances while maintaining its efficiency we have to incorporate repeaters and satellites.

Stage Two: Global-Based Network

Quantum Repeaters

Quantum repeaters are analogous to a classical repeater scheme with amplifiers. Basically, the transmission distance is broken up into segments from the repeaters where the loss isn’t so great. The repeater then performs the QKD in several segments then establishes an entangled photon pair between nodes next to each other. Quantum repeaters allow the end-to-end generation of quantum entanglement between the photons by means of teleportation.

Repeater Architecture:

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Basic hardware for a typical quantum repeater

One repeater is composed of three different parts

  1. (2) separated sources of entangled pair photons
  2. (2) quantum memory devices
  3. (1) quantum measurement device

The quantum repeater is composed of two sources of entangled particles. The four particles go in four different fibers so that one particle in each source goes to a quantum measurement device where the remaining two go in opposite directions. The measurement device then determines if the two incoming particles are identical and if they are, the two photons are entangled together.

Here we are able to establish the entanglement of two photons separated by a distance longer than the one reached using only a single source of entangled photons (the local-based network). Because of this, the quantum repeater can now increase the distance over which the entanglement is distributed. A quantum memory device is then added at each side of the quantum repeater to store the states of the two entangled particles.

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The quantum repeater with the combined quantum memory, quantum measurement device (Q Mes.) and entangled photon source (S)

The repeater method works well for longer distances (across small states) but is still considered localized. What if we wanted to enable IoT device communication across the world, thousands of miles away from each other? To truly achieve a global IoT network where devices around the world were all connected together with the data centers, quantum satellites would have to be established.

Quantum Satellites

So first, why satellites?

Within a quantum network, the physical layer is either a fiber optic or free space network. If we tried to establish a fiber optic network that connected one part of the world to the other and tried to perform QKD on them, the photons would have an extremely high chance of decohering because of the huge distance. If we attempted to set repeaters for the whole network, costs would drive up based on the number of repeaters required which overall isn’t feasible.

The alternative is using a free space network that is able to transmit information through a vacuum or the atmosphere (with satellites). This provides a huge advantage because photons aren’t able to decohere through the process, empty space providing a greatly reduced channel loss from the photon’s propagation path.

We propose to use a satellite platform and space-based link to connect two remote points on Earth by means of photons encoding messages. More satellites would create a larger global network.

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Space-link satellite structure. The satellite sends each entangled photon to each base stations (total of two base stations) at a specific altitude

Here is how it works:

  1. The satellite’s main function is producing entangled photon pairs. An ultraviolet laser is split and sent into a crystal which is able to produce entangled photons with opposite polarization states.
  2. The entangled pairs of photons in space are broadcasted to two different base stations on the ground for each satellite. This is a constellation of similar satellites, where 2 ground stations must see the same satellite at the same time.
  3. When relaying the message, the satellite creates a quantum key (string of random numbers encoding information) sent to receivers on Earth. The photons enable the quantum key to travel farther distances (based on quantum cryptography and QKD).
  4. The satellite sends ciphers over long distances, sending messages virtually impossible to wiretap. If there is an interruption from a third party/hacker, the transmission fails.
  5. The base/ground stations are entangled and are able to swap messages with nearby base stations.
  6. The ground stations consist of telescopes aimed at the satellites, which collect photons and direct them to quantum memories.
  7. Once on Earth, these photons from the satellite are stored in ‘quantum memories’ that can be entangled across the world.
  8. Once entanglement is stored on the ground, it is used to send secure messages sent locally using optical fibers.
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The overall global network, connecting with the optical fibers, satellite links, nodes and repeaters

If we want to achieve a network with global coverage, this would require 400 satellites with an altitude of 3000 km.

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China’s Micius Satellite. Our satellite platform models that of Micius’ (except for the satellite design) where QKD is linked from the satellite to 2 base stations

The satellite itself would be small-scale, with three main functions

  1. Efficient source for generating photons
  2. Low-cost crystal to entangle the photons
  3. Polarizing beam splitter, pump laser, mirrors

The source for generating the photons would be single-photon emitters based on nitride quantum dots (allows the emission of different wavelengths of light). The emitter produces a stream of identical photons that can be entangled by splitting a beam with an interferometer. The material used for the emitter would be carbon nanotubes and silicon carbide which are able to act in room temperatures.

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A functionalized carbon nanotube is capable of single-photon emission at room temperature

The photons would then be entangled by firing an ultraviolet laser at a specified wavelength through either a commercially available crystal, for example, potassium titanyl phosphate crystal (KTP) or a beta-barium borate crystal.

The overall inner part of the satellite would look like this:

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Inner part of the satellite, consisting of a light-altering crystal, single photon source, beam splitter and pump laser

Implications

Costs

The overall cost of the satellite would cost under $100,000. With its smaller size, the price mainly comes from the inner parts of the satellite. The single photon emitter based on the carbon nanotubes would be much more cost-effective than other ways of generating photons, including the diamonds with color center defects. The cost of the crystal is on average $750.

Benefits

Overall, based on the local and global quantum networks with the qIoT devices Anaxa establishes, it would produce these benefits:

  • Convenience and Efficiency — the effortless, almost instant communication capabilities within remote care can lead to a more automated system of appointments and checkups
  • Timeliness and Accuracy — extra minutes offered by the predictions in continuous monitoring can be the difference between life and death
  • Safety and Security — improved digital security can lead to increased access to a highly secure network for accessing patient health information
  • Mobility — improves patient satisfaction with the easy-to-use content and interactivity from access to care via their everyday consumer devices

Execution Timeline

Improving security and efficiency with quantum-based networks is overall ambitious, but we at Anaxa believe that it is very possible and feasible. This is our 10-year plan:

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If you liked this article, add a clap and stay in tuned for more articles coming soon! Reach out to me at aliceliu2004@gmail.com or on LinkedIn

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