8 September 2020

FIRE-Q: Field-ready single-photon quantum technology

Quantum network:

Secure communication and data protection is an increased key focus area on an international as well as national level. Unbreakable and secure communication is furthermore vital within essential fields of society as health care, the financial sector, government services, military purposes etc.

Professor Peter Lodahl i laboratoriet på Niels Bohr Institutet.
Professor Peter Lodahl i laboratoriet på Niels Bohr Institutet.

As we live in an increasingly digitized society, where the exchange of private and sensitive information happens almost exclusively over digital channels there has been considerably more focus on protection of personal rights to privacy and confidentiality latest by the EU legislation of GDPR.

Legislation and increased awareness on secure communication is of utmost importance, however these measures does not guarantee that communication is physically secure at the hardware level.

FIRE-Q (Field-Ready single-photon Quantum technology) addresses this issue by developing quantum hardware for long-distance unbreakable communication in an already existing fiber-optic network.

3 Danish universities in a 4-year project collaboration

FIRE-Q (Field-Ready single-photon Quantum technology) vil imødekomme dette problem gennem udvikling af hardware baseret på kvanteteknologi. Det vil gøre det muligt at etablere en fuldstændig ubrydelig kommunikationskanal, som kan sende information over lange afstande i det allerede eksisterende optiske fibernet.

Phd. studerende i laboratoriet på Blegdamsvej
Phd. students in the laboratory at Blegdamsvej in Copenhagen.

Building on 15 years of quantum research in the laboratory, FIRE-Q is in a unique position to take up the challenges of next generation of communication technologies. The collaborative scoop of FIRE-Q will transform world-leading quantum research into commercial products for un-hackable encryption and the building blocks of tomorrow’s quantum computers.

The project will run for four years, carried out in a collaboration between the Technical University of Denmark, University of Aarhus, and University of Copenhagen and four SME/Start-up companies: Sparrow Quantum https://sparrowquantum.com/, SiPhotonIC https://siphotonic.com/, nanoPHAB https://www.nanophab.com/, Swabian Instruments https://www.swabianinstruments.com/ respectively situated in Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany. The project is externally funded by the Innovation Fond Denmark’s Grand Solution program with 17.8 mill. DKK and has a total budget of 27 mill. DKK.

Key components for the project is the single photon technology already developed that enables to emit single photons (light particles) in a controlled way from a source. Single photons are excellent carriers of quantum information. By developing a technology where communication is based on single photons, it is possible to encrypt the transmission of information to a very high level of security. The aim of FIRE-Q is to be able to distribute single photons over long distances. The core of modern telecommunication, the existing fibre-optic network in Denmark is well suited for the distribution of photons.

Impenetrable line of communication between NBI and DTU

“The first major goal is to build an impenetrable line of communication between the Niels Bohr building in Copenhagen and DTU in Lyngby, using the existing fibre-optic network as a highway for our light particles of encrypted quantum information,” explains Assistant professor Leonardo Midolo.

The universities and industrial partners will seek to establish long-term committed collaborations of mutual benefit. The industry partners will have access to state-of-the-art knowledge, know-how and people and at the same time they are in a unique position to grow business opportunities exploiting the single photon source and associated technology for commercialization. The aim is to make field ready quantum technology accessible for immediate employment for the benefit of society where secure data is critical.  

Adjunkt Leonardo Midolo
Leonardo Midolo is part of the team behind FIRE-Q. He is also the leader of another business project QUANTECH, Danish research infrastructure set up to support and promote research and industry in the development of quantum equipment.

“We have enormous aspirations in quantum technology and great opportunities to realize them right here on Danish soil. Doing so requires that we unite and exploit our capabilities. In this project, we have assembled an exceptional team of researchers and people from industry with complementary competencies,” concludes Professor Lodahl.