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.