Examination of China’s performance and thematic evolution in quantum cryptography research using quantitative and computational techniques

Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)


Publication Date

Winter 1-31-2018

Publication Title


Document Type



This study performed two phases of analysis to shed light on the performance and thematic evolution of China’s quantum cryptography (QC) research. First, large-scale research publication metadata derived from QC research published from 2001–2017 was used to examine the research performance of China relative to that of global peers using established quantitative and qualitative measures. Second, this study identified the thematic evolution of China’s QC research using co-word cluster network analysis, a computational science mapping technique. The results from the first phase indicate that over the past 17 years, China’s performance has evolved dramatically, placing it in a leading position. Among the most significant findings is the exponential rate at which all of China’s performance indicators (i.e., Publication Frequency, citation score, H-index) are growing. China’s H-index (a normalized indicator) has surpassed all other countries’ over the last several years. The second phase of analysis shows how China’s main research focus has shifted among several QC themes, including quantum-key-distribution, photon-optical communication, network protocols, and quantum entanglement with an emphasis on applied research. Several themes were observed across time periods (e.g., photons, quantum-key-distribution, secret-messages, quantum-optics, quantum-signatures); some themes disappeared over time (e.g., computer-networks, attack-strategies, bell-state, polarization-state), while others emerged more recently (e.g., quantum-entanglement, decoy-state, unitary-operation). Findings from the first phase of analysis provide empirical evidence that China has emerged as the global driving force in QC. Considering China is the premier driving force in global QC research, findings from the second phase of analysis provide an understanding of China’s QC research themes, which can provide clarity into how QC technologies might take shape. QC and science and technology policy researchers can also use these findings to trace previous research directions and plan future lines of research.

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