Free Space Quantum Communication

Quantum technology is ‘booming’. In fact, we are currently in the middle of the Second Quantum Revolution. Where the first revolved around the understanding and application of the physical laws that describe the smallest particles, quantum mechanics, and among others led to the transistor, lasers and GPS (global positioning system), the Second Quantum Revolution revolves around the use of quantum mechanical principles as entanglement and superposition. It was previously thought that it would be impossible for humans to control and apply them.

Now they form the basis for future quantum computers, quantum internet, quantum communication and quantum sensors. In order to transmit and share quantum information, qubits, optical fibers can be used. However, the maximum distance which can be overcome is limited by loss. Unlike ‘classical’ communication, qubits cannot be amplified as this would influence their quantum state. A solution is to use satellites which can be used to send quantum information over long distances. Moreover they can be used to entangle distant quantum computers on ground to create a web of connected (entangled) quantum nodes. Space based Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) is a first step towards this world wide quantum communication network. Based on fundamental quantum mechanical principles, an encryption key is shared between two distance receivers without an eavesdropper able to intercept it without us knowing it.

The workshop will be held by Bob Dirks. “During this presentation I will immerse you in the fascinating field of quantum technology. I will explain the basic principles behind quantum communication, and QKD in particular, as well as TNO’s ambitions and activities in the field.