ICFO, the Institute of Photonic Sciences, has received €1.7 million (about $1.86 million) from the Axa Research Fund to create a permanent chairmanship for quantum cryptography technology research, addressing rising data security issues among governments, the private sector and civil society. Chairman Antonio Acín, a professor at ICFO, will lead the project for five years. Acín studies quantum cryptography protocols that ensure the inviolability of data communications. "Security in today's age of reliance on information is of vital importance to everyone," Acín said. "This chair will allow us to delve into our research with the aim of obtaining high-impact, innovative results for the future of society." ICFO will conduct research focused on developing and implementing encryption systems based on quantum devices, with the aim of 100 percent secure data communications. Based on the use of quantum particles, the devices are able to code information in a way that is impossible to hack. "To break these protocols would be to go against the laws of quantum physics, which is something that has never been achieved," Acín said. "Quantum encryption is the great hope for total data privacy, as it would allow users to certify the security of their communications without relying on a third-party supplier," said Ulrike Decoene, head of the Axa Research Fund. "This contrasts with current methods of encryption, which are vulnerable to hacking and whose security intrinsically requires dependence on external encryption system." The Axa Research Fund, created by the Axa Group in 2007, aims to boost scientific progress and discoveries that contribute to understanding and better preparing for environmental, life and socioeconomic risks. With a commitment of €200 million until 2018, the fund supports 449 projects led by researchers of 50 nationalities, working in 230 universities in 32 countries.