Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) researcher Thomas Jennewein is pioneering new applications for quantum technologies, in particular quantum communications networks in space. Jennewein is the Science Team Lead of the Quantum EncrYption and Science Satellite (QEYSSat) mission.
What is the QEYSSat Mission?
- The Quantum EncrYption and Science Satellite (QEYSSat) mission, funded by the Canadian Space Agency (ASC/CSA) & with an anticipated launch in 2023, will be a technology demonstration platform to study quantum links and Quantum Key Distribution for ground-to-space communication with quantum ground stations across Canada and internationally.
- QEYSSat is a low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite with a Quantum Receiver & Transmitter, capable of exchanging quantum-encoded photons with a quantum ground station via line-of-sight freespace link. Read more in QEYSSat: a mission proposal for a quantum receiver in space.
- Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) is the generation of encryption keys between two users (typically called ‘Alice’ and ‘Bob’) whose security is based on the principles of quantum physics, such that information cannot be copied or manipulated without being noticed.
- If an eavesdropper tries to hack the quantum channel, it will disturb the photons, revealing the attack.
Why do we need QKD?
- Future advances in quantum computing could make current public-key encryption methods vulnerable. The security of QKD is not based on the difficulty of solving mathematical problems, but instead based on physical processes. An encryption key generated from QKD that is secure today will remain secure against advances in computing power (i.e. key has “Forward Security”).
- A quantum network will enable long-term data security, thus ensuring Canada’s sovereignty over the privacy of Canadians' public, private, and commercial data.
Why use satellites?
- While quantum information can be sent over a few hundred kilometers using direct optical fiber links, larger distances require other approaches. Signal transmission in fiber decreases exponentially, and conventional amplification to compensate for the lost signal does not work for quantum information. Ground-based quantum repeaters are being developed, but are unlikely to enable Canada-wide links for the foreseeable future.
- Satellites with quantum technologies onboard are critical components for a Canada-wide Quantum Network, and for building a global Quantum Internet.
Space quantum communication projects
The space quantum science mission concepts build upon a series of relevant projects by IQC that have been generously supported by the CSA, DRDC, FedDev Ontario and other federal and provincial organizations including Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation (MRI), Canada Foundation for Innovation/Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation (CFI/MEDI), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Canadian Institute For Advanced Research (CIFAR) and NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Program.
In the fall of 2016 the team, supported by the National Research Council of Canada’s (NRC) Flight Research Laboratory, successfully demonstrated quantum key distribution (QKD) between a transmitter on the ground and a receiver payload onboard an NRC Twin Otter Airborne Research Aircraft in the Smiths Falls, Ottawa area.
The QEYSSat mission was green-lit in 2017 when the Canadian government announced federal funding for quantum technologies in space. The IQC team has been working with partners in industry and academia to advance the QEYSSat microsatellite mission through a series of technical studies funded initially by Defense Research and Development Canada (DRDC) and subsequently by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). In 2017, the CSA named Thomas Jennewein as the QEYSSat Science Team Lead and awarded a science support contract for the QEYSSat mission. Honeywell Aerospace/COM DEV was selected to design and implement Phases B-E of the mission. Read more in Airborne demonstration of a quantum key distribution receiver payload.
- Research: Thomas Jennewein, Principal Investigator, Quantum Photonics Laboratory
- Media: Kayleigh Platz, Senior Manager, Liaison and Integrated Communications, Institute for Quantum Computing
QEYSSat and QKD Videos
Launched in 2010 with the feasibility study on quantum entanglement experiments in space, the QEYSSat mission is supported through the projects and funding listed in bold below. These projects relate to the study of free-space quantum communication, in view of developing tools for a global Quantum Internet.
QEYSSat Science Team Support Contract
|2017-present||Canadian Space Agency (CSA)|
NSERC UK-Canada Alliance Grant Reference-Frame Independent Quantum Communication for Satellite-Based Networks (ReFQ)
|QEYSSat 2.0 Project||2021-2022||NRC|
|Quantum Photonics Devices for a Quantum Internet||2020-2023||NSERC Department of National Defence (DND) Supplement grant|
|Quantum Photonics Devices for a Quantum Internet||2020-2025||NSERC Discovery|
Facility for building, testing, and operating quantum satellites
|2017-2021||Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Ontario Research Fund (ORF)|
|Deep Space Quantum Payload Radiation Impact Assessment for GEO and Deep Space Environments||2020-2022||CSA-FAST|
|Quantum Photonics Devices for Quantum Communications||2015-2020||NSERC Discovery|
|Building a Workforce for the Cryptographic Infrastructure of the 21st Century||2012-2020||NSERC CREATE|
|Quantum Information Program||2010-2019||CIFAR|
|Quantum-Signal Receiver enhanced by a Single-Photon Detector Array||2018-2019||DRDC|
Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) Demonstration
|Technologies for quantum communication satellites||2016-2019||CSA|
QEYSSat Detector assembly + QKD Payload Elegant Breadboard (EBB)
|Towards quantum sensing with photons||2016-2017||NRC/DRDC|
Acquisition, Pointing and Tracking (APT) System for QKD Payload
|Facility for Global and Secure Quantum Communication||2013-2018||CFI & ORF/MEDI|
Airborne QKD demonstration
Quantum Key Distribution Receiver (QKDR) for QEYSSat
|Entangled Sources for Ground-Based QKD||2013-2015||NSERC Research Tools and Instruments|
|QEYSSat Microsatellite Feasibility Study||2013-2015||CSA (Prime Contractor COMDEV)|
|Advancement of Satellite-Based Quantum Communications||2013-2014||FedDev Ontario|
|Acquisition, Pointing and Tracking (APT) for QEYSSat Study and Breadboarding||2012-2013||CSA (Prime Contractor COMDEV)|
|Satellite-Based Quantum Communication||2011-2015||Ontario MRI Early Researcher Award 2010|
|Canadian Quantum Communication Satellite: Concepts and Components||2011-2012||CSA|
|Facility for Operating and Testing Quantum Devices||2010-2015||CFI & ORF|
|Quantum Photonics Devices for Quantum Communications||2010-2015||NSERC Discovery|
|Feasibility Study on Quantum Entanglements Experiments in Space||2010-2011||CSA (Prime Contractor COMDEV)|
In the media
06/14/19 - Cybersecurity from space: the Government of Canada invests in quantum technology, Canadian Space Agency
03/18/19 - Space Strategy for Canada, Canadian Space Agency
12/19/17 - Press release from Canadian Space Agency
04/27/17 - Press release from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
02/02/17 - Wired article by Sophia Chen
12/22/16 - "We've got photons!"
12/20/16 - Globe and Mail article by Ivan Semeniuk
QEYSSat Scientific Publications
E. Meyer-Scott, Z. Yan, A. MacDonald, J-P. Bourgoin, H. Hübel and T. Jennewein, “How to implement decoy-state quantum key distribution for a satellite uplink with 50-dB channel loss,” Physical Review A 84, 062326 (2011). arXiv.
D. Rideout, T. Jennewein, G. Amelino-Camelia, T. F. Demarie, B. L. Higgins, A. Kempf, A. Kent, R. Laflamme, X. Ma, R. B. Mann, E. Martín-Martínez, N. C. Menicucci, J. Moffat, C. Simon, R. Sorkin, L. Smolin and D. R. Terno, “Fundamental quantum optics experiments conceivable with satellites – reaching relativistic distances and velocities,” Classical and Quantum Gravity 29, 224011 (2012). arXiv.
Z. Yan, E. Meyer-Scott, J-P. Bourgoin, B. L. Higgins, N. Gigov, A. MacDonald, H. Hübel and T. Jennewein, “Novel High-Speed Polarization Source for Decoy-State BB84 Quantum Key Distribution Over Free Space and Satellite Links,” Journal of Lightwave Technology 31, 1399 (2013). arXiv.
J-P. Bourgoin, E. Meyer-Scott, B. L. Higgins, B. Helou, C. Erven, H. Hübel, B. Kumar, D. Hudson, I. D'Souza, R. Girard, R. Laflamme and T. Jennewein, "A comprehensive design and performance analysis of low Earth orbit satellite quantum communication," New Journal of Physics 15, 023006 (2013). arXiv.
C. Holloway, J. A. Doucette, C. Erven, J-P. Bourgoin and T. Jennewein, “Optimal pair-generation rate for entanglement-based quantum key distribution,” Physical Review A 87, 022342 (2013). arXiv.
T. Jennewein, J-P. Bourgoin, B. Higgins, C. Holloway, E. Meyer-Scott, C. Erven, B. Heim, Z. Yan, H. Hübel, G. Weihs, E. Choi, I. D'Souza, D. Hudson and R. Laflamme, "QEYSSAT: a mission proposal for a quantum receiver in space", Proc. SPIE 8997, Advances in Photonics of Quantum Computing, Memory, and Communication VII, 89970A (2014).
S. Sajeed, P. Chaiwongkhot, J-P. Bourgoin, T. Jennewein, N. Lütkenhaus and V. Makarov, “Security loophole in free-space quantum key distribution due to spatial-mode detector-efficiency mismatch,” Physical Review A 91, 062301 (2015). arXiv.
J-P. Bourgoin, N. Gigov, B. L. Higgins, Z. Yan, E. Meyer-Scott, A. K. Khandani, N. Lütkenhaus and T. Jennewein, “Experimental quantum key distribution with simulated ground-to-satellite photon losses and processing limitations,” Physical Review A 92, 052339 (2015). arXiv.
J-P. Bourgoin, B. L. Higgins, N. Gigov, C. Holloway, C. J. Pugh, S. Kaiser, M. Cranmer and T. Jennewein, “Free-space quantum key distribution to a moving receiver,” Optics Express 23, 33437 (2015). arXiv.
C. J. Pugh, S. Kaiser, J-P. Bourgoin, J. Jin, N. Sultana, S. Agne, E. Anisimova, V. Makarov, E. Choi, B. L. Higgins and T. Jennewein, "Airborne demonstration of a quantum key distribution receiver payload," Quantum Science and Technology 2, 024009 (2017). arXiv.
E.Anisimova, B. L. Higgins, J-P. Bourgoin, M. Cranmer, E. Choi, D. Hudson, L. P. Piche, A. Scott, V. Makarov and T. Jennewein, “Mitigating radiation damage of single photon detectors for space applications,” EPJ Quantum Technology 4, 10 (2017). arXiv.
J. G. Lim, E. Anisimova, B. L. Higgins, J-P. Bourgoin, T. Jennewein and V. Makarov, “Laser annealing heals radiation damage in avalanche photodiodes,” EPJ Quantum Technology 4, 11 (2017). arXiv.
P. V. Pereira Pinheiro, P. Chaiwongkhot, S. Sajeed, R. T. Horn, J-P. Bourgoin, T. Jennewein, N. Lütkenhaus and V. Makarov, “Eavesdropping and countermeasures for backflash side channel in quantum cryptography,” Optics Express 26, 21020 (2018). arXiv.
R. Tannous, Z. Ye, J. Jin, K. B. Kuntz, N. Lütkenhaus and T. Jennewein, “Demonstration of a 6 state-4 state reference frame independent channel for quantum key distribution,” Applied Physics Letters 115, 211103 (2019). arXiv.
P. Chaiwongkhot, K. B. Kuntz, Y. Zhang, A. Huang, J-P. Bourgoin, S. Sajeed, N. Lütkenhaus, T. Jennewein and V. Makarov, “Eavesdropper’s ability to attack a free-space quantum-key-distribution receiver in atmospheric turbulence,” Physical Review A 99, 062315 (2019). arXiv.
J. Jin, J-P. Bourgoin, R. Tannous, S. Agne, C. J. Pugh, K. B. Kuntz, B. L. Higgins and T. Jennewein. “Genuine time-bin-encoded quantum key distribution over a turbulent depolarizing free-space channel,” Optics Express 27, 37214 (2019). arXiv.
A. Scott, T. Jennewein, J. Cain, I. D'Souza, B. L. Higgins, D. Hudson, H. Podmore and W. Soh, "The QEYSSAT mission: on-orbit demonstration of secure optical communications network technologies," Proc. SPIE 11532, Environmental Effects on Light Propagation and Adaptive Systems III, 115320H (2020).
B. L. Higgins, J-P. Bourgoin and T. Jennewein, “Numeric estimation of resource requirements for a practical polarization-frame alignment scheme for quantum key distribution (QKD),” Advanced Optical Technologies 9, 253 (2020). arXiv.
C. J. Pugh, J-F. Lavigne, J-P. Bourgoin, B. L. Higgins and T. Jennewein, “Adaptive optics benefit for quantum key distribution uplink from ground to a satellite,” Advanced Optical Technologies 9, 263 (2020). arXiv.
I. DSouza, J-P. Bourgoin, B. L. Higgins, J. G. Lim, R. Tannous, S. Agne, B. Moffat, V. Makarov and T. Jennewein, “Repeated radiation damage and thermal annealing of avalanche photodiodes,” EPJ Quantum Technology 8, 13 (2021). arXiv.
Quantum Photonics Laboratory
QEYSSat Science Team Principal Investigator Thomas Jennewein is an IQC faculty member and professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo, and leads the Quantum Photonics Laboratory (QPL). The research of the QPL group centers on the applications of quantum photonics and quantum optics, as well as the fundamental aspects of the quantum world. The research group is involved in the experimental design and demonstrations of quantum photonics devices suitable for communication and computing with photons, and the development of ultra-long distance quantum communication systems using terrestrial and satellite-based systems. They are developing photonic quantum entanglement sources for various quantum protocols, and have pioneered the direct generation of three photon entangled states from cascaded parametric down conversion.