News | August 31, 2022

Quantum Technologies For The Communication Networks Of The Future

At the end of July, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) announced the funding of two projects coordinated by the TU Dresden. In the next three years, scientists at the Deutsche Telekom Professorship for Communication Networks will work together with their project partners to advance communication networks of the future using quantum technologies.

In the joint project "Quantum Internet of Things (QUIET)", the project partners TU Dresden, University of Munich and the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research (IFW) Dresden will develop a hybrid quantum-conventional communication network. The total project volume is €4.42 million (82% of which is funded by the BMBF).

The aim of the "Quantum Wireless Campus Network (QD-CamNetz)" project is to demonstrate the first 5G quantum campus network. TU Dresden, Technical University of Munich, IFW Dresden e. V., CampusGenius GmbH, Deutsche Telekom AG, Bonn received funding totaling €8.49 million (96% of which was funded by the BMBF).

In the current 5G and future 6G networks, a data explosion is expected due to massive machine communication involving thousands of sensors to control, manage and automate the industrial networks of the future.

Network operators are therefore forced to find alternative approaches that enable more efficient collection, transmission and processing of data. The increasing energy consumption associated with big data mining (under today's communication paradigms) can also only be managed with new performance-enhancing communication and sensor technologies. In this context, quantum technologies can provide the communication and sensing resources to solve the energy problems and inefficiencies of classical technologies. Future Internet of Things (IoT) networks also pose some critical challenges in terms of security, communication, and data collection and processing. It is therefore imperative to find new and different technologies that to ensure the sustainability and communication performance of the IoT. Quantum resources such as entanglement offer the possibility to generate perfectly distributed and secure randomness, which is a valuable resource for the above challenges in future communication.

The QUIET project is therefore concerned with the design and realization of an end-to-end system solution that implements the new approaches of quantum technologies in IoT communication networks, ranging from IoT sensors or IoT sensor networks to intelligent networks and cloud -Applications are enough to solve the above problems. The QUIET project will study and experimentally evaluate the communication of multiple devices, which will be combined in a demonstrator that includes quantum sensing, storage and communication together with classical edge computing. The experimental platform will also enable real-time applications with acceptable data rates.

First of all, as part of the project, quantum memories are being realized for use as quantum sensors in order to set up a quantum-classic sensor network. This means the realization of an optical network of quantum sensors based on semiconductor quantum dots, which can be superimposed at a central node to obtain a distributed quantum state. This distributed quantum state is to be used in the experimental demonstrator for IoT quantum metrology at the TU Dresden. In this way, changes in the electromagnetic field of the environment can be measured and processed directly at the central network node, which then forwards them securely and highly efficiently to a cloud application.

Next, the project will realize a secure quantum IoT architecture (from the single sensor to the applications). IoT security is designed from a system level perspective, taking into account the security of the network and each protocol layer. Security within and between networks is also assessed. In addition, the QUIET project will address the major security and resiliency threats such as those caused by interference and denial-of-service attacks.

Campus networks are necessary for the realization of future industrial scenarios in which people and machines will work together. Digital twins, augmented and virtual reality, and haptic communications will require the very low latency communications provided by campus networks. The classic technologies are reaching their limits, so that new communication and computing resources have to be found. In this context, quantum resources like entanglement seem to be of primary importance to increase the level of reliability, trustworthiness, security, resilience and low latency.

QD-CamNetz aims to research, design and realize a 5G quantum campus and local area network (LAN) that is secure, trustworthy, resilient and reliable. The project will deploy the world's first 5G quantum campus network, in which 5G radio access network (RAN) and mobile edge computing will be seamlessly integrated with quantum communication technologies for physical layer transmission and routing. In particular, this will require the development and realization of quantum routers. Quantum routers will be able to route photons carrying quantum information and perform operations and protocols at the physical, link and network levels. The quantum protocol stack will be seamlessly connected to the classic protocol stack, so that classic applications and services can use the available quantum resources. The integration of the classical and quantum protocol stacks will allow the former to control and reconfigure the latter according to changing network conditions.

Another objective is to increase the precision of the network's time synchronization, as traditional synchronization techniques cannot provide the precision required for future services that require very low latency and very high reliability. The problem of ultra-precise network synchronization is central to the operation of the network itself and to the successful completion of communication between applications and services. With quantum synchronization, it will be possible to achieve unprecedented sub-nanosecond precision.

On the one hand, the project focuses on basic research for the design of the entire protocol stack and the network architecture. On the other hand, it will create an experimental environment to test the use in future industrial campus networks by realizing a demonstrator on the TU Dresden campus.

Campus networks are of great economic importance for industry and for the technological sovereignty of Germany and the EU. On the one hand, this will create a hub for the teaching and training of quantum engineers in Germany that is unique in the world. On the other hand, the project will be able to disseminate industrially important specifications through the development and research of campus networks based on quantum technologies. Ultimately, the quantum 5G campus network will be a unique research and industrial test platform.

Source: TU Dresden