Delft, 25 November 2020 – QuTech (a collaboration between TU Delft and TNO), KPN, SURF and OPNT are launching a collaboration designed to make significant progress in building a first ever quantum network connecting the Randstad, i.e. one of the main metropolitan regions in The Netherlands. The project will focus on connecting different quantum processors, a significant distance apart, over a Dutch network. The aim is to build the very first fully functional quantum network using high-speed fibre connections.
Fundamentally secure communication
A quantum network is a radically new internet technology, with the potential for creating pioneering applications. Such a network connects quantum processors to each other via optical channels, and this enables the exchange of so-called quantum bits (qubits). Qubits have a number of features that make them very different from the bits we currently know and use in classical networks. For example, quantum communication is potentially immune to eavesdropping practices. Quantum communication networks are expected to evolve over time towards a global quantum network, and this would allow secure communication; position verification; clock synchronisation; computation using external quantum computers; and more. Among other things, the project is intended to lead to new techniques, insights and standards that will bring a quantum network closer.
Fundamental and industrial research
Building a quantum network that enables all of the pioneering applications mentioned above is a unique challenge, and one that forms the focus for TKI project partners*. Around the world, researchers are working hard to turn quantum networks into reality, but all existing solutions are based on a simpler technology. This provides the incentive for TKI-partners to contribute to building a fully functional quantum network.
The quantum internet ecosystem of the future
Different parties in the collaboration each contribute their own areas of expertise. Ultimately, the mix of skills will help to create a programmable quantum network that connects quantum processors in different cities. Erwin van Zwet, Internet Division Engineering Lead at QuTech, underlined the project’s importance: “Working with these partners, we expect to have taken significant steps towards a quantum network by the end of the TKI project.”
Although the technology is still at an early stage, all four parties see the benefit of joining forces now. Wojciech Kozlowski, a postdoc at QuTech and responsible for one of the work packages in the TKI project: “Every day we are working on finding answers to the question of how network operators, such as KPN or SURF, can deploy a quantum network, and what sort of services they can offer their users. Although we are still in an early stage of development, we are already building the quantum internet ecosystem of the future by working with key partners. This ecosystem will prove crucial as our quantum network evolves into a fully-fledged quantum internet.”