News › Fraun­ho­fer IOF · HYPERSPACE rese­arch pro­ject aims to create basis for inter­con­ti­nen­tal quan­tum network

Rese­ar­chers from Europe and Canada want to jointly create the basis for an inter­con­ti­nen­tal net­work for quan­tum com­mu­ni­ca­tion. The HYPERSPACE pro­ject will spe­ci­fi­cally inves­ti­gate the dis­tri­bu­tion of ent­an­gled pho­tons via satel­lite. The rese­arch pro­ject has now star­ted its three-year duration.

At short distances, ent­an­gled pho­tons have alre­ady been suc­cessfully exch­an­ged in various expe­ri­ments. But inter­con­ti­nen­tal and thus poten­ti­ally glo­bal exch­ange remains a chall­enge. This is what the new HYPERSPACE rese­arch pro­ject is tack­ling. Tog­e­ther, rese­ar­chers from Europe and Canada want to create the basis for a Cana­dian-Euro­pean con­nec­tion. The stra­te­gic col­la­bo­ra­tion will focus on rese­arch into inte­gra­ted quan­tum pho­to­nics and opti­cal space com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ons for the bene­fit of a satel­lite-based quan­tum net­work bet­ween the continents.

Ent­an­gle­ment dis­tri­bu­tion in space

Expe­ri­ments are ongo­ing around the world to exch­ange ent­an­gled pho­tons over the lon­gest pos­si­ble distances, e.g., by means of free beams through the air or via opti­cal fibers laid in the ground. Howe­ver, the detec­tor noise and the unavo­ida­ble los­ses in fiber-based trans­mis­sion curr­ently limit the range of ter­restrial trans­mis­sion to a few hundred kilo­me­ters. In the future, so-cal­led quan­tum repea­ters could enable ent­an­gle­ment over lon­ger fiber distances. Howe­ver, rese­ar­chers still face a num­ber of tech­no­lo­gi­cal chal­lenges before a suf­fi­ci­ent increase in range, as would be neces­sary for a glo­bal net­work, beco­mes pos­si­ble. The solu­tion: direct exch­ange of ent­an­gled pho­tons in space via opti­cal satel­lite links.

The over­ar­ching goal of HYPERSPACE is the­r­e­fore to deve­lop satel­lite-based quan­tum com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ons into sca­lable glo­bal quan­tum net­works based on expe­ri­ments. To this end, HYPERSPACE encom­pas­ses rese­arch and inno­va­tion along the entire pro­cess chain of pho­to­nic quan­tum com­mu­ni­ca­tion: from noise-resistant state coding, fully fiber-embedded and pho­to­ni­cally inte­gra­ted quan­tum light sources and free-space com­pa­ti­ble state ana­ly­zers, to the imple­men­ta­tion of advan­ced pro­to­cols faci­li­ta­ted by the use of ent­an­gle­ment in mul­ti­ple degrees of free­dom – so-cal­led hyperventanglement.

Eight part­ners from Europe and Canada

A total of eight part­ners from Europe and Canada are invol­ved in the pro­ject: In addi­tion to the Fraun­ho­fer Insti­tute for Applied Optics and Pre­cis­ion Engi­nee­ring IOF, these are the Uni­ver­sità degli Studi di Pavia and Uni­ver­sità degli Studi di Padova (both Italy), the Com­mis­sa­riat à l’é­ner­gie ato­mi­que et aux éner­gies alter­na­ti­ves CEA-LETI (France), the Vienna Uni­ver­sity of Tech­no­logy (Aus­tria), the Insti­tut Natio­nal de la Recher­che Sci­en­ti­fi­que, and the Uni­ver­sity of Toronto and Uni­ver­sity of Water­loo (all Canada). The rese­arch pro­ject is coor­di­na­ted by Fraun­ho­fer IOF in Jena.

The pro­ject is co-fun­ded by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion (under the Hori­zon Europe pro­gram) and the Natu­ral Sci­en­ces and Engi­nee­ring Rese­arch Coun­cil of Canada (NSERC) with 2.8 mil­lion euros. 300,000 euros of this will go to Fraun­ho­fer IOF.

Appli­ca­ti­ons in infor­ma­tion tech­no­logy and sen­sor systems

Quan­tum ent­an­gle­ment, once descri­bed by Albert Ein­stein as »spooky action at a distance,« is now con­side­red a key resource for the latest appli­ca­ti­ons in infor­ma­tion pro­ces­sing and sen­sor tech­no­logy. A glo­bal quan­tum inter­net can enable signi­fi­cantly impro­ved, even pre­viously unthinkable appli­ca­ti­ons, such as more pre­cise syn­chro­niza­tion of clocks, highly effi­ci­ent cloud com­pu­ting, or even highly secure data trans­mis­sion using quan­tum cryptography.

Unlike con­ven­tio­nal cryp­to­gra­phy methods, which grant secu­rity through the com­pu­ta­tio­nal effort asso­cia­ted with decryp­tion, the secu­rity of quan­tum cryp­to­gra­phy is based on phy­si­cal principles.