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CiViQ brings quantum technologies to the telecommunications arena

  • This Quantum Flagship project aims to develop low cost, flexible, adaptable secure devices, services and protocols that can be easily integrated into existing telecommunication networks.
  • 21 partners (4 Research Institutes, 7 Universities, 2 SMEs, and 8 large companies) make up the consortium members, which have been chosen for their expertise and because they are able to cover the entire supply chain of quantum cryptography.
  • Coordinated by ICFO, the project is one of the largest among the 20 selected proposals (from a total of 141 submissions) for the ramp-up phase of the Quantum Flagship.

In over 200 years, the world has experienced four major industrial revolutions. While the first implemented steam power for mechanized production, the second was based on electric power to drive mass production, the third used electronics and computing to automate this production, and finally the fourth used digital technologies to radically change the way we interact and connect with those around us, the way we work and live and even the way we may view the world of today.

This fourth revolution involves a new way of sharing information that deals with massive and exponentially incremental data creation and storage as well as data traffic at global scales, in most cases, driven by new applications such as the Internet of Things, Big data, and Blockchain. However, in general, lots of this information, such as health, finance or even defense databases, is extremely sensitive and needs to be treated with very secure protocols and procedures.

Classical cryptography protocols can be replaced with quantum-based systems because of their superior robustness in security issues. Although amazing advance has been made in the field of Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) research, today the options given for cybersecurity and cryptography are good but not the best. The current QKD technologies implemented for these services are in fact, among other issues, expensive, exhibit poor flexibility within systems and network implementation, and cannot operate appropriately in telecommunication networks where it is essential that they are end-user driven.

The new European project CiViQ (Continous Variable Quantum Communications) will search for a means to overcome these obstacles. Selected as one of the 20 projects to give commencement to the Quantum Flagship, an ambitious 1b€ initiative supported by the European Commission for the next 10 years, CiViQ aims to develop flexible and low-cost QKD systems that can be integrated easily into modern existing telecommunication infrastructures as well as cryptography systems and protocols. Its ultimate goal is to offer accessible, innovative services to individuals, industries and institutions that can meet the needs of a market where secure communications is a hot topic to be solved nowadays.

ICREA Prof. at ICFO Valerio Pruneri, coordinator of the project, comments In the next three years, CiViQ will put together the technology to meet specific network security requirements. The end-user drive together with the flexible integration into existing networks are the prerequisite for a successful impact in the future cryptography and cybersecurity markets."

To do this, the project will bring together a consortium of stakeholders that cover the entire supply chain of quantum cryptography, from academic research groups, component manufactures, industrial equipment suppliers to telecommunication network operators/end users. The consortium has gathered a total of 21 partners (list of partners below): 4 Research Institutes, 7 Universities, 2 SMEs, and 8 large companies, that will contribute through the research in areas such as quantum protocol design and security analysis, certification, integrated photonics, high-speed electronics, system and network engineering, among other fields. The partners will combine their expertise to ultimately promote quantum-enhanced security services and drive the creation of novel commercial applications, strengthening the competitiveness of the European Ecosystem in the field of Quantum technologies.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 820466.

  • ICFO- The Institute of Photonic Sciences, Barcelona, Spain
  • Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, (CNRS), France
  • Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), Austria
  • Universidad Politecnica de Madrid (UPM), Spain
  • Palacký University Olomouc (UPOL), Czech Re-public
  • Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI), Germany
  • Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Denmark
  • Telecom Paris Tech (TPT), France
  • Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light (MPL), Germany
  • University of York (UY), United Kingdom
  • Huawei Technologies Duesseldorf GmbH (HWDU), Germany
  • Nokia Bell Labs France (NBLF), France
  • Coriant (COR), Germany
  • VLC Photonics (VLC), Spain
  • QuSide (QS), Spain
  • INRIA, France
  • Mellanox (MLNX), Israel
  • Nextworks (NXW), Italy
  • Telefonica (TID), Spain
  • Orange (OR), France
  • Deutsche Telekom, (DT), Germany

The difference between QKD and CV-QKD

In quantum mechanics, arbitrary quantum states cannot be cloned. Thus, if you distribute quantum states between two parties, then any information gain by a third party (spy or eavesdropper) will influence the sent quantum states, which can be detected by the first two parties and thus allow them to terminate the conversation. Quantum mechanics allows one to estimate the level of information gain by a third party and generate a secure distributed key from the knowledge of sent and measured quantum states. This key then can be used for encryption purposes where the security can be proven and quantified. Standard QKD uses single photons and polarization encoding (proposed by Bennett and Brassard in 1984). The minimum requirement for using QKD is to implement non-orthogonal quantum states in the distribution process. Many different encoding schemes have been using this single photon detection (discrete Hilbert space) technique. CiViQ focuses on an alternative protocol family where one directly measures electric field variables and not only the intensity corresponding to a “click” in a single-photon detector. The measured outcomes are continuous values (corresponding to an infinite Hilbert space), hence the name continuous variable QKD (CV-QKD).


Kick-off meeting of the CIVIQ project at ICFO on October 11th, 2018

About the Quantum Flagship

The Quantum Flagship was launched in 2018 as one of the largest and most ambitious research initiatives of the European Union. With a budget of €1 billion and a duration of 10 years, the flagship brings together research institutions, academia, industry, enterprises, and policy makers, in a joint and collaborative initiative on an unprecedented scale. The main objective of the Flagship is to consolidate and expand European scientific leadership and excellence in this research area as well as to transfer quantum physics research from the lab to the market by means of commercial applications and disruptive technologies. With over 5000 researchers from academia and industry involved in this initiative throughout its lifetime, it aims to create the next generation of disruptive technologies that will impact Europe’s society, placing the region as a worldwide knowledge-based industry and technological leader in this field.


Michael Mürling
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology

Marketing and Communications

Center for Digital Safety & Security

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