Quantum Internet for Europe: TU Dresden joins the Quantum Internet Alliance as it searches for quantum technology in new communication networks

Quantum Internet for Europe: TU Dresden joins the Quantum Internet Alliance as it searches for quantum technology in new communication networks

Photo: Professor Frank H.P. Fitzick, President of Deutsche Telekom for Communications Networks
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Credit: Jörg Simanowski

Professor Frank H.P. Fitzick and his assistant. Professor Riccardo Pasoli of Deutsche Telekom represents TUD’s Head of Communications Networks in the joint venture. Together with 40 partners from science and industry, they are searching for an innovative European quantum internet prototype. The researchers are primarily interested in how quantum technology can be used to improve future communication networks. The quantum internet connects quantum computers together. These computers don’t use zeros and ones, they work with qubits that can take on many states at once and communicate with physical matter or light particles. Quantum systems can carry more information than conventional systems because they encode information between components rather than within them. Researchers have been trying to figure out how to stabilize the fragile qubits and how to bind more of them together for many years.

Securing quantitative internet communication

Something that can be achieved sooner rather than later with quantum bits is the transmission of secure information that third parties cannot take advantage of. Using quantum physics, it is possible to reliably detect any third party intercepting the line. The phenomenon of quantum entanglement makes this possible: two qubits are inextricably linked, even if they are located several kilometers from each other. Just like teleportation, one can communicate information to the other. The state of the first light particle also appears in the second photon despite the distance between them. The entanglement of two qubits cannot be broken, creating a special connection. Quantum cryptography takes advantage of this principle to encrypt information, so that it can be transmitted securely and privately.

The Quantum Internet as a Pioneer in European Digital Sovereignty

Quantum cryptographic systems are already used today to transmit cryptographic codes from banks and governments, for example. Currently, this is possible for distances of about 70 to 80 kilometers. A quantum internet should expand the potential distances that quantum encoded information can travel, enabling the construction of a quantum network. China is at the forefront of creating a network of this kind, which is why the European Union wants to bridge the gap and has begun investing in this technology. The Qatar Investment Authority’s seven-year project was launched in October 2022 to create a quantum internet in Europe. The alliance is part of the Quantum Flagship Project, a multi-billion euro research project funded by the European Commission to support researchers and companies in Europe in creating a digitally independent Europe. The Qatar Investment Authority has spent the past few years laying the groundwork for the realization of its prototype. This includes the laboratory’s first multiprocessor quantum network, the first quantum program and network array, and a state-of-the-art quantum repeater system that will enable long-distance quantum communications in the future.

TU Dresden’s role in the Quantum Internet Alliance

Professor Frank H.P. Fitzick and his assistant. Professor Riccardo Pasoli focuses on defining and characterizing specific applications of the quantum internet. Identifying technology applications that do not exist in the strict sense of the word is a real challenge. It can be compared to the development of applications such as email or online banking before the birth of the Internet as we know it in the late 1960s. In addition, they are working to identify the performance metrics required by quantum communication technologies to support 5G and future 6G use cases. The focus is on the seamless integration of future 6G networks and quantum communication technologies.

Quantum Internet Alliance

Founded in 2017 by European market leaders QuTech, ICFO, the University of Innsbruck and the Paris Center for Quantum Computing, the Quantum Internet Alliance is a team of academic institutions, telecom operators, system integrators and quantum technology startups from across Europe. The QIA receives funding from the European Union’s research and innovation program Horizon 2020. In the first phase of its project covering a period of 3.5 years, the QIA received a total budget of 24 million euros.

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