Harvard’s Breakthrough in Quantum Computing: A Leap Towards Error-Correction and Noise Reduction

There has been a substantial advancement in quantum computing, which was disclosed by a group of researchers from Harvard University, in conjunction with QuEra Computing Inc., the University of Maryland, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the United States of America has provided funding for the development of a one-of-a-kind processor that has been designed with the intention of overcoming two of the most major problems in the field: noise and mistakes.

Noise that affects qubits (quantum bits) and causes computational mistakes has been a significant obstacle for quantum computing, which has been confronting this difficulty for quite some time. In the process of improving quantum computer technology, this has proven to be a significant obstacle. Since the beginning of time, quantum computers that contain more than one thousand qubits have been needed to do enormous amounts of error correction. This is the issue that has prevented these computers from being widely used.

In a ground-breaking research that was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature, the team that was lead by Harvard University disclosed their strategy for addressing these concerns. They came up with the idea of logical qubits, which are collections of qubits that are linked together by quantum entanglement for communication purposes. In contrast to the conventional method of error correction, which relies on duplicate copies of information, this technique makes use of the inherent redundancy that is present in logical qubits.

A quantity of 48 logical qubits, which had never been accomplished previously, was used by the team in order to effectively perform large-scale computations on an error-corrected quantum computer. By proving a code distance of seven, which indicates a stronger resilience to quantum errors, this was made achievable by constructing and entangling the biggest logical qubits that have ever been created. Therefore, this was made practicable.

In order to construct the processor, thousands of rubidium atoms were separated in a vacuum chamber, and then they were chilled to a temperature that was very close to absolute zero using lasers and magnets. 280 of these atoms were converted into qubits and entangled with the help of additional lasers, which resulted in the creation of 48 logical qubits. Rather of utilizing wires, these qubits communicated with one another via the use of optical tweezers.

When compared to previous bigger machines that are based on physical qubits, this new quantum computer demonstrated a far lower rate of mistakes during computations. Instead of fixing mistakes that occur during computations, the processor used by the Harvard team incorporates a post-processing error-detection phase. During this phase, erroneous outputs are discovered and discarded. This is an expedited approach for scaling quantum computers beyond the current age of Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum (NISQ), which is currently in effect.

As a result of this accomplishment, new opportunities for quantum computing have become available. The achievement is a big step toward the development of quantum computers that are scalable, fault-tolerant, and capable of addressing problems that have traditionally been intractable. Specifically, the study highlights the possibility for quantum computers to conduct computations and combinatorics that are not conceivable with the technology that is now available in the field of computer science. This opens an altogether new avenue for the advancement of quantum technology.

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BIS Conference Addresses Cybersecurity in Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC)

The BIS Innovation Hub and the Cyber Resilience Coordination Centre (CRCC) hosted a conference on November 8, 2023, focused on “Securing the future monetary system: cyber security for central bank digital currencies“. General Manager Agustín Carstens opened the event with a clear message: the advent of CBDCs is inevitable, and their security is paramount to the future financial system.

As the financial landscape is on the verge of substantial change, Carstens pointed out that central banks are tasked with not only keeping up with the digital evolution but leading the way. This leadership is embodied in the development of CBDCs, which are poised to be at the heart of the financial system. Whether they take on a wholesale or retail form, their design needs to be versatile and their legal frameworks robust to gain public trust.

The integrity of central bank money is a cornerstone of the public’s confidence in the financial system. CBDCs introduce new levels of security challenges, with cyber risks being a significant concern. Carstens cited the vulnerabilities exposed in the crypto universe as a cautionary tale for CBDCs, which carry much higher stakes. Addressing these risks is critical, necessitating a flexible design that can adapt to future technological advancements, including the potential impact of quantum computing and generative AI.

While focusing on security, Carstens didn’t overlook the importance of privacy in CBDC design, considering it essential for public acceptance, especially for retail CBDCs.

The BIS is firmly committed to aiding central banks in their journey towards a digital future. The Innovation Hub has been at the forefront, exploring solutions for secure and functional retail CBDCs, integrating quantum-resistant cryptography, and ensuring offline cyber resilience. Concurrently, the CRCC is enhancing collaboration and operational readiness among central banks through tools and exercises.

Carstens also recognized the vital role of the private sector, particularly in customer-facing services, and stressed the importance of shared cybersecurity and resilience as public goods among connected institutions.

The conference sets the stage for critical discussions on cybersecurity strategies for CBDCs, governance, risk management, and technical challenges, including the quantum computing threat. Carstens concluded with anticipation for the insights that the conference’s discussions will yield, reflecting the BIS’s readiness to guide and support central banks in securing the monetary system’s future.

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JP Morgan, Ciena and Toshiba Partner to Establish Quantum Key Distribution Network

To protect the blockchain networks from eavesdropping and quantum computing attacks, JP Morgan Chase, Ciena, and Toshiba have shown the feasibility of a Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) system in groundbreaking research. 

In a statement, the research team disclosed that the QKD network can offer speeds of 800 Gbps for mission-critical blockchain applications irrespective of environmental factors. 

Yasushi  Kawakura, Toshiba America’s vice president, believes that the QKD project is a stepping stone towards averting quantum attacks on the blockchain ecosystem. 

The QKD network is an integration of JP Morgan’s P2P blockchain-based network called “Liink”, Toshiba’s proof of concept network infrastructure, and Ciena’s Waveserver 5 platform consisting of 800 Gbps optical-layer encryption. 

Therefore, it is based on quantum physics and uses a solid two-way communication framework. 

Marco Pistoia, the head of the FLARE Research group at JP Morgan Chase, welcomed the strategic partnership and stated:

“This work comes at an important time as we continue to prepare for the introduction of production-quality quantum computers, which will change the security landscape of technologies like blockchain and cryptocurrency in the foreseeable future.”

Given that the quantum computing era is on the horizon, Steve Alexander believes research and development are crucial for optimal results like Ciena’s first-ever 800 Gbps encryption. 

The chief technology officer at Ciena explained:

“With more sensitive information being distributed across fiber-optic networks every day, robust encryption is of vital importance.”

Quantum computers are still in the developing phase and are deemed superfast than standard computers.

JP Morgan has been crafting a name for itself in the blockchain/crypto space. For instance, it created a business unit dubbed Onyx to house its digital currency and blockchain efforts.

The leading bank also recently set foot in the metaverse through a virtual lounge. 

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Quantum Computers Will Make Bitcoin Vulnerable in the Future, Researchers Say: Report

A team of quantum computing experts believes that the technology’s expanding capabilities will inevitably pose a threat to the security of Bitcoin (BTC).

In a new report, The Independent highlights research exploring the massive computational potential of quantum machines that could one day compromise the security of Bitcoin.

The research team set out to determine how much quantum computing power would be required and calculated that such a feat could be achieved after magnitudes of technological gains.

Team leader Mark Webber said,

“State-of-the-art quantum computers today only have 50-100 qubits. Our estimated requirement of 30 [million] to 300 million physical qubits suggests Bitcoin should be considered safe from a quantum attack for now, but devices of this size are generally considered achievable, and future advancements may bring the requirements down further.”

A qubit is a quantum bit, the basic unit when calculating in a quantum system that’s comparable to the ones and zeroes of traditional binary computing.

When going off of Webber’s estimates, quantum computing would have to increase 300,000 times on the low end and 6,000,000 times on the high end to breach Bitcoin’s security.

A more detailed breakdown appears in the paper’s abstract.

“We calculate the number of physical qubits which would be required to break the 256-bit elliptic curve encryption of keys in the Bitcoin network, within the small available time frame in which it would actually pose a threat to do so.

It would require approximately 317 million physical qubits to break the encryption within one hour using the surface code, a code cycle time of 1 μs [millionth of a second], a reaction time of 10 μs, and physical gate error of 10−3.

To break the encryption instead within one day it would require 13 million physical qubits.”

The report concludes that while Bitcoin could mitigate the security risk by hard-forking into quantum encryption, the increased memory requirements would likely affect the network’s overall efficiency.

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Cardano Begins Work on Becoming Resistant to Quantum Attacks, According to Creator Charles Hoskinson

American developer Charles Hoskinson is saying that his team is now preparing Cardano (ADA) for the era of quantum computing.

Quantum computers are anticipated to provide the answers to problems that cannot be solved by the classical computers used today, but some fear that quantum computing could threaten the crypto industry.

In a new YouTube video, Hoskinson tells his 288,000 subscribers that work is now underway to make ADA immune from quantum attacks.

“The first thing you need to do is model the algorithms we have against the quantum adversary.

We have started that process, but that’s not in scope for the deliverables in 2022.

However, the knowledge is there, the people are there and if it’s a priority for the next five years of Cardano, it’s something that can be done.”

Hoskinson says they are not making Cardano quantum attack resistant sooner because of the significant trade-offs.

“We came to the conclusion that the math and science is not where it needs to be to have acceptable trade-offs.

You don’t want a system where, by adopting something to protect you from something 10 or 20 years in the future, you have to pay a price today.

Because quantum computers do not yet exist, the Cardano creator says that the threats of quantum computing are not yet a real problem today.

“It makes more sense to model out all the theoretical properties you have to adhere to and improve the state of the art of mathematics so that we have better primitives to work with to actually ameliorate the issues of quantum computers and that’s what we’re doing and it’s an academic exercise at the moment.

It’s not a real problem today, it’s not a concern. There is no working quantum computer that poses a threat to any cryptographic system.”

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Could Advanced Quantum Computing Pose A Risk To Bitcoin Security?

Rapid progress in quantum computing is predicted by some to have crucial ramifications in domains using public-key cryptography, such as the Bitcoin ecosystem.

Bitcoin’s “asymmetric cryptography” is based on the principle of “one-way function,” implying that a public key can be easily derived from its corresponding private key but not vice versa. This is because classical algorithms require an astronomical amount of time to perform such computations and consequently are impractical. However, Peter Shor’s polynomial-time quantum algorithm run on a sufficiently-advanced quantum computer could perform such derivations and thus falsify digital signatures.

Potential Risks Posed By Quantum Computing

For a better understanding of risk levels introduced by advanced quantum computing, we restrict ourselves to simple person-to-person payments. These can be divided into two categories, each affected differently by quantum computing:

  1. Pay to public key (p2pk): Here, the public key is directly obtainable from the wallet address. A quantum computer could potentially be used to derive the private key, thus allowing an adversary to spend funds at the address.
  2. Pay to public key hash (p2pkh): Here, the address is composed of a hash of the public key and hence, is not directly obtainable. It is revealed only at the moment of initiation of a transaction. Hence, as long as funds have never been transferred from a p2pkh address, the public key is not known and the private key cannot be derived even using a quantum computer. However, if funds are ever transferred from a p2pkh address, the public key is revealed. Hence, to limit exposure of the public key, such addresses should never be used more than once.

While avoiding reuse of a p2pkh address can limit vulnerability, there might still arise situations where a quantum-capable adversary can successfully commit fraud. The act of transferring coins even from a “safe” address, reveals the public key. From that moment until the transaction is mined, an adversary has a window of opportunity to steal funds.

Theoretical Methods Of Attacking Bitcoin With Quantum Computing

  1. Transaction hijacking: Here, an attacker computes the private key from a public key of a pending transaction and creates a conflicting transaction spending the same coins, thus stealing the victim’s assets. The adversary offers a higher fee to incentivize inclusion in the blockchain over the victim’s transaction. It must be noted that, before the victim’s transaction is mined, the attacker must not only create, sign and broadcast the conflicting transaction, but also first run Shor’s algorithm to derive the private key. Clearly, timing is crucial for such attacks. Hence, the performance level of quantum computers dictates the success probability of this threat vector.
  2. Selfish mining: In this potential attack vector, the attacker could theoretically use Grover’s algorithm to gain an unfair advantage when mining. This quantum computation routine aids searching unstructured data and can provide a quadratic jump in hash rate. The ability to mine quickly in a sudden quantum speedup could lead to destabilization of prices and control of the chain itself, resulting in possible 51% attacks.
  3. Combined attacks: Combining the above two vectors, an attacker could theoretically build up a secret chain and, when in the lead, selectively publish blocks to reorganize the public chain. The adversary can also choose to simultaneously hijack transactions. Here, spoils of fraud would not only block rewards and transaction fees, but also all funds contained in (non-quantum-resistant) addresses spent in the overwritten transactions.

Methods For Combating Potential Quantum Computing Attack Vectors

Fraud Analytics

Data science tools can be used to mitigate risk in the window of opportunity an adversary has to steal funds.

Data gathered via mempool APIs can be used to run real-time machine learning algorithms to spot anomalies in offered transaction fees and thus, flag attempts at transaction hijacking. Such algorithms can also help to spot sharp jumps in the blockchain hashr ate and accordingly raise alerts on possible “selfish mining.”

Dynamic AI models can compute fraud risk of pending transactions at every instant until confirmation. These models can deduce potential profits of adversaries for every threat vector, thus arriving at the probability of any transaction being fraudulent. Insurance products can be designed to cover fraud risk of pending transactions, pricing of which can be dynamically computed from the fraud probability inferred by models.

Additionally, a “reputation score” can be computed for each node in the blockchain. APIs capturing device details, IP address, etc. can be used to cluster activities (mining and/or transactions) into homogenous clusters, thus having a high chance of originating from the same users. Such patterns can also be used to directly detect quantum computers in the blockchain. ‘’Reputation scores’’ might be of special significance in case of combined attacks as adversaries use a multi-vector approach to siphon funds.

The public transaction log of Bitcoin provides substantial data about user profiles. “Network algorithms” can use this information to link different wallet addresses, thus unmasking coordinated attacks. This can enable us to blacklist linked wallet addresses of quantum-enabled adversaries.

Wallet Interface Design

Intelligent design of user interface can help in alerting customers to the risk of reusing addresses, via strategic placement of warning messages.

Consensus Rules

Principles of effective incentive design can be used to formulate changes in consensus rules, such as applying a markup on transaction fees for p2pk and reused p2pkh wallets. This would prompt users to switch to safer behavior. Additionally, it would result in shortening the confirmation time of such transactions as miners would pick them first, thus narrowing the window of opportunity for the adversary.


The growth of quantum computers, with internal states consisting of many qubits, may raise questions about the underlying cryptographic assurance of Bitcoin. Even users adhering to security best practices might still be impacted in situations where a significant number of bitcoin is stolen from unsafe addresses, thus causing increased price volatility. A broad set of initiatives in post-quantum cryptography are underway to mitigate such scenarios.

It is crucial to note that the emergence of “quantum supremacy” does not necessarily imply weakening of the Bitcoin ecosystem. Better systems of quantum computing will eventually provide opportunities for a slow economic transition to better tooling.

While the phase of asymmetric usage of quantum computers might generate multiple threat vectors, principles of fraud risk management along with user awareness can help design solutions for such a future.


  1. Shor, PW. Polynomial-time algorithms for prime factorization and discrete logarithms on a quantum computer, 1999. SIAM Rev. 41, pp. 303–332. Retrieved from https://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/9508027
  2. Grover, LK. A fast quantum mechanical algorithm for database search, 1996. In Proc. 28th ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing (STOC ’96), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pp. 212–219. New York, NY: ACM. Retrieved from https://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/9605043

  3. I. Stewart, D. Ilie, A. Zamyatin, S. Werner, M. Torshizi, and W. J. Knottenbelt. Committing to quantum resistance: a slow defence for bitcoin against a fast quantum computing attack. Royal Society open science, 5(6):180410, 2018. Retrieved from https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/pdf/10.1098/rsos.180410

This is a guest post by Debanjan Chatterjee. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.


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Researchers Say Hack-Proof Quantum Communications Network Ready for Launch

The world’s first integrated space-to-ground quantum communications network is reportedly ready for practical use.

According to information obtained by the South China Morning Post, the integrated communications quantum network developed by professor Pan Jianwei and a team of scientists from the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei is found to be secure, reliable, and stable in facilitating communications and transfer of sensitive information between users across large distances.

“Using a trusted relay structure, the fibre network on the ground covers more than 2,000km, provides practical security against the imperfections of realistic devices, and maintains long-term reliability and stability.”

Completed in 2017, the integrated quantum network consisted of 700 optical fibers spanning 2,000 kilometers (KMs) and the Micius satellite which is dubbed as the world’s first quantum communication satellite. The integrated space-to-ground quantum communications network connects 32 nodes slated across four Chinese provinces and three municipalities covering a total of 4,600 KMs.

The experiment applied quantum key distribution technology (QKD), an innovation that allows the transfer and encryption of data using quantum entanglement or the phenomenon where particles remain connected even though they are set apart by a huge distance.

Over 150 users across various industries including the public sector, electricity, and finance participated in the world’s first large-scale quantum communication experiment.

According to South China Morning Post, any attempt to hack messages transferred through channels based on quantum entanglement would cause changes and raise alarms, which would render the network hack-proof in theory.

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Quantum Breakthrough: New Device Is 100,000,000,000,000x Faster Than Leading Supercomputer, Researchers Say

A Chinese research team is claiming they have developed a quantum computer that is 100 trillion times faster than any existing computer. According to media outlet Xinhuanet, the team, which includes famed quantum physicist Pan Jianwei, is touting a significant breakthrough in quantum computing. Pan and his team’s machine has achieved what those in the […]

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