The seven-year QuNET funding initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is divided into three phases: In the first phase, QuNET-alpha, the project partners will research quantum communication technologies for hybrid communication systems and establish an appropriately secured pilot link between federal institutions. The goal is to develop a quantum network that ensures tamper- and eavesdrop-proof data transmission between federal authorities. To this end, the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute is researching photonic technologies for secure quantum-based communication networks in QuNET-alpha together with the Fraunhofer IOF, the Max Planck Society and the German Aerospace Center.
Fraunhofer HHI contributes two pioneering technologies to QuNET: photonic integrated circuits for the quantum network as well as expertise in fiber optic networks and quantum key transmission. Fraunhofer HHI thus covers the entire chain from key functionalities via integrated optical components to real-time capable systems for fiber-based quantum communication. In QuNET-alpha, the focus of component development is on quantum cryptography transmitters for the BB84 protocol in the PolyBoard platform and on InP-based single photon detectors for future miniaturized receiver chips. On the system side, the focus is on real-time connectivity of quantum cryptography setups for the provision of secure keys over existing fiber optic networks. In addition, Fraunhofer HHI provides the classical communication channels for all project partners via mobile radio and fiber optics, which are encrypted using quantum cryptography and thus enable confidential communication.