SQuaD and QR.X hosted a Joint Workshop in Bad Honnef –
From 22 to 24 February 2023, a large section of Germany’s Quantum Communication community came together for a conference held at the Physikzentrum Bad Honnef (PBH) near Bonn. The stately atmosphere of the PBH’s 19th century monastery building combined with the modern setting of the adjoining conference center provided a unique framework for this event. To stimulate the discourse, the QR.X research project joined forces with the umbrella project known as SQuaD of the German Innovation Hub for Quantum Communication to organize a joint conference. Around 80 attendees took part on site, while at peak times the live stream audience topped the 30 mark. Following a brief greeting, Prof. Dr. Christoph Becher reported first on the Quantenrepeater.Link (QR.X) joint research project. Its work is aimed at demonstrating the fundamental elements and functions of Quantum Repeaters and how they can be deployed under real-world conditions. QR.X researchers are exploring new and innovative approaches along three technology pathways: (1) trapped atoms and ions; (2) Quantum Systems in diamonds; and (3) semiconductor nanostructures. Together, these technologies will lead to the development of components for Quantum Repeaters. The research teams were able to show that an asynchronous entanglement distribution scheme verifies the slight losses predicted in association with Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), and that increasing the coherence time will, in principle, enable Quantum Communication over greater distances. “The next step: We have to get out of the lab. We need to actively test the application in fiber testing links and demonstrate the advantages of the Quantum Repeater in practice. We will use multiplexing to try and raise the data rate even further,” says Prof. Becher in summing up where the QR.X project currently stands.
Next up was Dr. Thorsten Goebel, who presented the four fields of application being investigated by the QuNET research initiative. With funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the QuNET initiative is laying the foundation for secure and robust IT networks based on Quantum Communication. Between now and 2026, the share of researchers is to be gradually reduced in favor of the participating industry partners, the aim being to ensure that the transfer of knowledge to industry goes as smoothly and as quickly as possible. One key experiment of particular importance is scheduled for June of 2023. Its objective is to demonstrate an exchange of Quantum Keys on a point-to-point link in Jena via both free-space and optical fiber connections.
Since late 2022 Germany has been working to pool its expertise in this area within the Innovation Hub for Quantum Communication, which is being coordinated by SQuaD, the Umbrella Project for Quantum Communication in Germany. “The aim of this umbrella project is to establish a central point of contact for the expertise and infrastructure of Quantum Communication in Germany.” says Dr. Nicolas Spethmann in describing the SQuaD mission. To achieve this, research and industry actors and projects like QuNET, QR.X and DivQSec are being brought together as partners and their existing research facilities expanded to create publicly available testing links for Quantum Communication technology. The Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) and the Bundesinstitut für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (BSI) contribute to the Hub by adding key expertise in the areas of metrology and cybersecurity.
With its broad range of activities that includes Germany-wide coordination, ensuring technology and knowledge transfer, harnessing research infrastructures, and performing monitoring, road mapping, and long-term planning, SQuaD is working to bring Quantum Communication actors together both within the Innovation Hub and beyond.
This talk was followed by presentations by the six industry-led projects in the Innovation Hub to address the topics of Quantum Key Distribution, standardization, certification, and user platforms. The third day of the conference focused on 6G research and gave attendees a broader overview of what is happening in this field.
Photo: Prof. Becher and Dr. Spethmann welcome the participants.