Photo of Feihu Xu

Artificial intelligence & robotics

Feihu Xu

Exploring quantum information technology for real-life applications

Year Honored


As a child born in a small town in Northeast China, Feihu Xu is grateful for having parents who highly value ​​education. Since he was a child, Xu has always believed in the thought that "knowledge can change fate."

In 2005, Feihu Xu was admitted to the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), the first step in changing his fate. By chance, he joined a lecture hosted by Professor Pan Jianwei, who is a world renowned quantum physicist. From there, he developed a keen curiosity about quantum information technology. Constrained by the limited access to scientific research, he sprouted the idea of ​​studying abroad, hoping to continue to study quantum information technology and apply it to reality.

In the first year of his master's degree at the University of Toronto, he and Professor Hoi-Kwong Lo's team realized the world's first attack on a commercial quantum key distribution system (QKD), and for the first time proved the importance of the security of quantum communication through experiments. Such work is widely considered an influential scientific breakthrough in the field of quantum cryptography. To date, this paper published in 2010 has been cited more than 300 times, leading many innovative studies on the security of quantum communication.

His supervisor, Professor Lo, described him as "a rising star in the field of quantum communication."

To foil quantum hackers and make QKD safer, Feihu Xu spent part of his Ph.D. time on designing a new protocol based on Professor Lo's measurement device-independent QKD (MDI-QKD) system, which further improved his theoretical foundation and realized his first experiments. These series of results led to the standardization of quantum confidential communication protocols and frameworks and has proven to be of great significance in the field of quantum cryptography.

Feihu Xu then went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his postdoctoral and joined the Optical and Quantum Communications Group led by Professor Jeffrey H. Shapiro and Franco N. C. Wong. His research extended to the topic of Single-Photon Imaging. He proposed an efficient low-photon computational imaging algorithm that, for the first time, realized an ultra-low-light and highly-sensitive 3D imaging method, which only requires detection of one photon per pixel.

In the eight years of overseas studies, Feihu Xu has always hoped that one day he can contribute to China's scientific research. So, in 2017, he decided to return to his alma mater and joined Professor Pan Jianwei's team.

In recent years, his primary research goal is still to make quantum technology practical, including long-distance quantum communication and single-photon imaging. He and his team broke the longest distance record of single-photon 3D imaging using a LIDAR system capable of providing unprecedented high-quality 3D images at distances up to 45 km, detecting only one photon per pixel. Such breakthroughs may considerably increase the detection range of a LIDAR system.

Recently, Feihu Xu, together with Professor Pan and Professor Lo, were invited to write a review article about the latest progress of practical quantum cryptography by the highly impactful and authoritative scientific journal Reviews of Modern Physics. Feihu Xu, being recognized for making significant contributions in the field of quantum communication, is the first author.

In the future, he will continue to expand his existing research results with the team and explore new practical directions, such as increasing the single-photon imaging distance to more than 100 km, realizing non-view-field single-photon imaging, and building a measurement device-independent quantum communication network.

Feihu Xu believes that research related to quantum is an essential aspect of competition among countries. He hopes that he can pass on his experience and knowledge to the students at USTC, attract them to scientific research, and contribute to China's quantum industry.