Quantum Communication for Secure Digital Communication

Quantum technology to safeguard the future of confidential information exchange


Many of the asymmetric and symmetric encryption methods currently used for the secure transmission of data and information are, in principle, vulnerable to attackers – provided that the attackers are able to invest sufficient processing power or computing time. The principal barrier to this is still imposed by the performance limitations of modern computer technology, although the limits of feasibility are constantly expanding thanks to innovative hardware technologies, new computer clusters, and their integration via the Internet.

These gains are offset by advances in encryption technology that can replace – or serve as a sensible complement to – conventional methods. For example, there are some encryption methods whose encryption cannot be broken, with the prerequisite that the sender and receiver have access to a common key. This reduces the problem of secure communication to one of the confidential transmission of keys.

Systems for the exchange of quantum keys allow a key of any length to be exchanged securely. These systems have a heterogeneous construction consisting of optical components, optoelectronic converters, and electronic assemblies. Our research into quantum communication contributes primarily to the development of the necessary nanoelectronic components with a focus on maximum performance, modular and universal use, and the miniaturization of these systems. This work also addresses national-level findings from the QuNET research initiative, which was established by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and aims to set up a pilot network for quantum communication in Germany.

In order to anchor the topic within the research landscape of the Free State of Saxony, the project seeks to establish an application center for the “design of scalable electronic systems for quantum communication”. This center will provide quantum communication systems that serve as a flexible experimental environment and as a test environment for the development of nanoelectronic circuits. At the same time, the plans envisage a gradual increase in signal transmission distances – expanding out of the local, urban environment in Saxony to reach the neighboring federal states of Bavaria and Thuringia in the fullness of time.

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BMBF QuNET initiative

In an initial phase, researchers from the QuNET funding initiative will explore quantum communication technologies for hybrid communication systems and establish a pilot quantum-secured link between federal institutions. In later stages of the project, the initiative aims to achieve connectivity with other European quantum-network initiatives.