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CryptoWorks21 thesis award winner’s research is out of this world

Photo of Nigar Sultana

CryptoWorks21 alumnus Nigar Sultana has been awarded the RBC Outstanding Thesis Award in Cybersecurity in the Quantum Era for her PhD Thesis.

This award is given annually to recognize an outstanding thesis on quantum-resistant cybersecurity from graduates of the CryptoWorks21 program. Sultana completed her PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a specialization in Quantum Information in January 2020 through the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC).

Her thesis, Single Photon Detectors for Satellite Based Quantum Communications, focused on the development of space suitable system for single-photon detectors that are a key element in Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) infrastructure.

Quantum key distribution is so far the only probable technology that will ensure cybersecurity in the quantum era. But QKD links connecting two legitimate parties are limited to only a few hundred kilometers utilizing terrestrial quantum links. The use of satellites is a potential foreseeable solution to globalize the QKD range.

The single-photon detectors necessary to receive quantum information are vulnerable to space radiation. To better understand and help mitigate damage to the photon detectors, Sultana investigated the tolerance of the devices and a laser annealing healing system.

Sultana credits the CryptoWorks21 program with providing an opportunity to develop a wide variety of professional and technical skills.

Sultana is currently working as a research associate at IQC and continuing her efforts to develop space-suitable systems for satellite QKD.