UNIQORN - Affordable Quantum Communication for Everyone - EU Quantum Flagship Project


The project "UNIQORN" (Affordable Quantum Communication for Everyone) started at the end of 2018 within the framework of the European research initiative "Quantum Flagship". The goal of the three-year project is to use photonic technologies in quantum communication. The optical systems, which currently require structures of the order of meters, will in future be accommodated on millimeter-sized chips. In addition to reducing the size and thus the cost, such systems are robust and can be reproduced better.

"UNIQORN" is a collaborative project with partners from industry and universities. 17 groups from various European countries work together under the coordination of the "Austrian Institute of Technology". In Paderborn special nonlinear integrated optical devices (e.g. photon-pair sources) will be developed, which contribute significantly to the desired miniaturization. These devices are then implemented by other project partners into hybrid functional units and then used to demonstrate the functionality for selected quantum applications in real-world communication networks.

The UNIQORN project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 820474.

Research contact. Prof. Dr. Christine Silberhorn

Further information:

The second quantum revolution promises unprecedented advantages in the fields of computing, communication and sensing. The ability to produce, manipulate and detect single quantum states allows for a new kind of information processing based on the laws of quantum mechanics. For computing this means the emergence of quantum computers that can outperform any classical computational task due to exponential speed-up in its processing power. With quantum sensing we have the possibility to build exceedingly precise sensors that work over a wide dynamic range. Communication will especially benefit from quantum enhanced protocols, since the currently employed public key infrastructure is vulnerable to attacks from quantum computers. Our modern way of life is critically dependent on efficient and secure transmission of data. The data traffic increased exponentially in the last decade not only thanks to more people using the internet but also due to the growing business-to-business (B2B) market in database storage and cloud services. So, any vulnerabilities in the security would lead to a loss of confidence in using those services with not only a large impact on businesses but also on our personal lifestyles. Quantum communication is coming to the rescue, because it can provide information-theoretic security against any attacker, even a quantum computer, in the form of quantum key distribution (QKD). However, the technological building blocks are just beginning to emerge from laboratories and further progress is still necessary to make the technology user-friendly and affordable and to incorporate it into our existing communication network infrastructure.

The UNIQORN project aims to support the development of quantum communication along the whole value chain from fabrication to application. UNIQORN’s mission is to provide the technology to integrate complex systems, which are presently found on metre-size breadboards, into millimetre-size photonic integrated chips (PICs). These systems will not only reduce size and cost but will also bring improvements in terms of robustness and reproducibility. The project also aims to deploy the quantum communication modules in fiber networks and demonstrate real-world applications. The deployment trials will include tests such as coexistence, where classical data is sent over the same fiber as the quantum signal.

Key Facts

Research profile area:
Optoelectronics and Photonics
Project duration:
10/2018 - 09/2021
Funded by:
Profilbereich Optolelektronik und Photonik
Von der EU geförderte Projekte

More Information

Principal Investigators

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Prof. Dr. Christine Silberhorn

Integrated Quantum Optics

About the person


Fully guided and phase locked Ti:PPLN waveguide squeezing for applications in quantum sensing
R. Domeneguetti, M. Stefszky, H. Herrmann, C. Silberhorn, U.L. Andersen, J.S. Neergaard-Nielsen, T. Gehring, Optics Letters 48 (2023).
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