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Prestigious Reis Prize Awarded to 31-Year-Old Information Theorist

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Holger Boche (left) and Rafael Schaefer, winner of the Johann Philipp Reis Prize

Holger Boche (left) and Rafael Schaefer, winner of the Johann Philipp Reis Prize, discuss their novel security system for wireless communications.

Credit: U. Benz/Technical University Munich

Researchers at Technical University Munich (TUM) have developed a security system for wireless communications that would prevent a would-be eavesdropper from receiving transmitted information. The scheme uses two physical channels--frequency bands in a wireless system--that are inherently useless, being incapable of securely transmitting a message.

The researchers say their approach offers advantages over higher-level techniques such as encryption. Moreover, the system provides a capability thought only possible with futuristic quantum communications technologies.

"We find that we are able to 'super-activate' the whole system, meaning that combining two useless channels can lead to a positive capacity to transmit confidential messages securely," says researcher Rafael Schaefer.

TUM professor Holger Boche also notes "to the best of our knowledge, this is the first example of super-activation--where zero plus zero is greater than zero--in classical communication scenarios."

Boche and Schaefer also have ascertained how to calculate the secrecy capacity of physical-layer channels designed to thwart wiretappers, and have characterized the code structure and optimal transceiver design for deploying this scheme.

From Technical University Munich (Germany)
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