MadQCI, the largest quantum network in Europe?

MadQCI, the largest quantum network in Europe?

2023-06-02 14:15:05

Quantum computing and quantum communications have the potential to become a paradigm shift in computer networks.

In this sense, an ambitious project has been launched in Spain. The IMDEA Software and IMDEA Networks Institutes participate together with six other partners (National Institute of Aerospace Technology, Spanish Metrology Center, Vithas Foundation, Autonomous University of Madrid, Polytechnic University of Madrid and Complutense University of Madrid) in the MADQuantum-CM project, financed by the Community of Madrid, the State through the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, and the European Union through NextGeneration EU funds. The objective of the project is the expansion of MadQCI, the new quantum communications network of the Community of Madrid.

MadQCI will connect, through a metropolitan deployment of fiber optics, data centers of the universities of the Community of Madrid and the IMDEA Software and IMDEA Networks Institutes. The network will make it possible to permanently house quantum communications equipment, enabling the validation of new key exchange technologies, as well as the development of use cases and innovations that take advantage of the infrastructure, which will be deployed by REDIMadrid, the advanced data network of the Community of Madrid, managed by IMDEA Software.

“Quantum key exchange technology has a very large disruptive potential, since it guarantees the exchange of keys and consequently secure communications between remote centers,” explains César Sánchez, director of REDIMadrid, senior researcher at the IMDEA Software Institute and principal investigator. of IMDEA Software in the project. “Europe has a world leadership in quantum technologies, and in the coming years we will see many advances both academically and industrially in quantum communications,” he continues.

“This technology will not only improve the performance and capacity of networks, but will change the very foundations, completely changing computing platforms,” explains Albert Banchs, Deputy Director of IMDEA Networks and Principal Investigator of the project at IMDEA Networks. Likewise, “quantum communications will be beneficial, from the social point of view, since they help to create highly sensitive data transmission networks based on a process called quantum key distribution, or QKD, which takes advantage of the laws of quantum physics to protect the data. This technology is already used, for example, by financial institutions, but its extension to other areas would require important innovations. The project will also contribute to fostering the development of new local quantum technology companies”, emphasizes Ignacio Berberana, Senior Research Engineer at IMDEA Networks and a participant in the project together with the Edge and Global Computing research groups of the Institute.

In this photograph of the Iberian Peninsula at night taken from space, Madrid, the setting for the MadQCI network, stands out in the central area as the brightest set of artificial lights. (Photo: NASA)

MADQuantum-CM aims to show how quantum security solutions can be used throughout the scientific network infrastructure of the Community of Madrid in a transparent manner. Among its aims is also to create various testbeds and demonstrations to show how quantum networks and communications can be used by potential stakeholders. As mentioned by Berberana, two of the areas that will be explored in this project will be the application of quantum cryptography and quantum communications to support new networks, such as future 6G networks.

In addition, it seeks to develop an innovation and training ecosystem to help grow technology and the supply chains of quantum communications technologies and services in Madrid and in Spain (through collaboration with other regional quantum communications projects). The network infrastructure deployed by the project is expected to form the basis of a permanent quantum network that allows innovation to continue beyond its lifetime. In short, these projects are based on the extensive experience in quantum communications of their participants.

“In the case of IMDEA Software, its participation in the European OpenQKD project that culminated in early 2023, allowed the construction of the largest European quantum communications testbed on the REDIMadrid network, the seed of the current MadQCI network”, highlights Sánchez. “In the case of IMDEA Networks, the project is based on the results of the European 5G Vinni projects as well as OpenQKD,” says Berberana. (Source: IMDEA Networks Institute)

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