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Quantum technologies on small satellites – QTX-5

Berlin University Alliance | Markus Krutzik, Alexander Ling, Daniel Oi, Ali Anwar, Christoph Wildfeuer, Simon Kanthak, Tobias Vogl

Sky is literally not the limit anymore – The potential of quantum technologies.

Quantum technologies (QT) have the potential to impact our daily lives in the future. Worldwide efforts by academia and industry currently accelerate the readiness level of technical solutions in communication, sensing and computation. Since first QT demonstrators even operated in space, sky is literally not the limit anymore – In orbit, these technologies enable new application or bear the potential to improve existing ones.

E.g. space-based sources of entangled photons and quantum memories promise the formation of global quantum communication networks for measureable security in communication links via quantum key distribution (QKD). Improved knowledge of our planet may be addressed by Earth observation missions using Quantum sensors that can measure tiny variations of Earth’s gravitational field caused by e.g. water flows, movement of ice and continental drifts. And optical clocks can boost the performance of time standards by several orders of magnitude, which are fundamental for everyday applications like communication and navigation with Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS).

The focus of the QTX-5 workshop will be on quantum technologies for space application with talks and panel discussions covering recent developments and tests of quantum payloads and its enabling technologies.

The event is co-hosted by the QTX research forum led by Markus Krutzik from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Ferdinand-Braun-Institut, Leibnizinstitut für Höchstfrequenztechnik, and Alexander Ling from National University of Singapore. The forum, funded in the framework of the strategic partnership between BUA and NUS, has previously met in Singapore (2018), Germany (2018), UK (2019), online (2020) and will now again take place virtually on Nov. 8th during the Berlin Science Week.


This is a digital event. If you would like to attend, please book your spot here. Access to the event will be provided after registration by the organiser.

Zur Übersicht

Markus Krutzik

Humboldt-Unviersität zu Berlin

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin & Ferdinand-Braun-Institut gGmbH

Alexander Ling

National University of Singapore

Daniel Oi

University of Strathclyde

SUPA Department of Physics | University of Strathclyde

Title: Towards a Space Quantum Internet

Abstract: Quantum technologies are set to revolutionise society and quantum networking may enable or enhance new capabilities or applications by exploiting the properties of quantum entanglement for distributed quantum computing, sensing, positioning, navigation, timing, and secure communication. However, the fragility of quantum states is a barrier to long-distance links, exponential losses in optical fibres being a major limitation. Satellite quantum nodes are a promising avenue for overcoming range constraints of terrestrial quantum links with recent pioneering in-orbit demonstrations showing the feasibility of space-based quantum communication channels. However, many challenges still remain to the construction of an Earth-spanning quantum internet. Here, we provide an overview world-wide activities to develop space quantum networks and illustrate a path ahead.

Ali Anwar

National University of Singapore

Centre for Quantum Technologies | National University of Singapore

Title: Demonstrating space-based quantum key distribution using nano-satellites

Abstract: Quantum key distribution (QKD) is one of the major application areas in which entangled photon-pair sources are used. Satellites carrying quantum source of light as well as the receiver unit to detect the photons emitted from the source are essential for establishing space-to-ground quantum communication. We have developed entanglement-based QKD systems with Cubesat standards, which could be one of the vital elements for practical realization of global quantum network. Along with the source, we build a receiver unit in an optical ground station to detect the photons sent from satellite, which is currently under construction.  In this talk, I will discuss the developmental stages of the small-scale entangled photon-pair source for space-based QKD, and the status updates of the development of receiver units on the ground station in Singapore.


Christoph Wildfeuer


School of Engineering | FHNW University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland

Title: Towards post-quantum public-key cryptography for satellite communications

Abstract: We report on our activities with the NIST round-3 PQC finalists in wire-based and wireless communication protocols. Experiments were performed connecting the campuses at NUS and FHNW in Switzerland. We show results of our benchmarking study. Finally, we present our work to demonstrate a quantum-safe key exchange between the ground-station at FHNW and Spooqy-1.

Simon Kanthak

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Institute of Physics | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin & Ferdinand-Braun-Institut gGmbH | Leibniz-Institut für Höchstfrequenztechnik

Title: Towards integrated quantum sensors aboard nano-satellites

Abstract: Space-based quantum sensors using laser cooled atoms promise enhanced performance for practical applications in navigation and earth observation. Over the last decades, the miniaturization of key technologies has led to a reduction in size from laboratory filling demonstrators to portable sensors of less than a cubic meter. To make the transition to practical, rugged devices that can be deployed on nano-satellites, the technical infrastructure (including vacuum systems, optics, and lasers) need to be further miniaturized. Here, our group explores the feasibility of micro-integration on the system level and, as a first stepping stone, discuss a centiliter optical frequency reference for cold atom sensors aboard nano-satellites.

Tobias Vogl


Institute of Applied Physics | Friedrich Schiller University Jena & Cavendish Laboratory | University of Cambridge

Title: Next-generation single photon sources for satellite-based quantum communication

Abstract: We present a room temperature single photon source based on a color center in hexagonal boron nitride for satellite-based quantum networks. The resonator-coupled emitter is characterized by a narrowband tuneable spectrum, high photon purity, and high quantum efficiency. The photon source is currently integrated on a 3U CubeSat to qualify it for use in a future satellite-based global quantum-encrypted network. The satellite also performs a fundamental test of quantum gravity.

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