Co-funded by the European Commission within the Quantum Flagship initiative of Horizon 2020 framework, the “UNIQORN – Affordable Quantum Communication for Everyone: Revolutionizing the Quantum Ecosystem from Fabrication to Application” project launched last October will run three years to September 2021, with a budget of 9,979,905€.
Key components to be developed for quantum communications systems of the future include among other things specialized quantum optical sources and detector technologies, which will be be implemented on mass-production technology platforms. They will be the basis for highly miniaturized optical systems that can fully exploit quantum mechanical properties such as entanglement and squeezed light.
Moritz Kleinert from the Hybrid PICs group of the Photonic Components department heads the three-year project UNIQORN at Fraunhofer HHI. The core of the integration in UNIQORN is the “micro-optical bench technology”, being developed by HHI scientist Hauke Conradi. It is based on the generation of free-space optical areas inside photonic integrated chips with the help of specially adapted micro lenses.
It will make it possible to combine large optical components such as crystals for generating entangled photons with integrated optical components and functionalities on a single PolyBoard chip.
As the project’s title implies, the aim is to develop quantum devices for the mass market, based on small, cheap, robust and reliable systems. Photonic integration technology will be pushed to accommodate quantum applications, shrinking the size of today’s complex devices for quantum communication from metre-sized breadboards to millimetre-sized chips.
By 2021, the researchers hope they will be able to provide cost-optimized building blocks for quantum devices to be used in home appliances and maybe even in smartphones. One of the key quantum applications envisaged for such photonic SoCs is highly secure encryption for secure and privacy-protecting database searches. Next, this could be used to secure internet communications with quantum-routers for on-demand entanglement distribution in optical-fibre networks.
Project partners include AIT (Austria), IMEC (Belgium), University of Vienna (Austria), University of Paderborn (Germany), University of Innsbruck (Austria), Technical University of Denmark (Denmark), Eindhoven University of Technology (The Netherlands), Micro-Photon Devices (Italy), Politecnico Milano (Italy), Smart Photonics (The Netherlands), ICCS/NTUA (Greece), VPI Photonics (Germany), Cordon Electronics (Italy), Mellanox (Israel) and Cosmote (Greece).