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Quantum Internet Alliance

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - QIA (Quantum Internet Alliance)

Reporting period: 2020-04-01 to 2022-03-31

The Internet - a vast network connecting devices anywhere on earth using long-range classical communication - has had a revolutionary impact on our world. The vision of a Quantum Internet is to provide fundamentally new Internet technology by enabling quantum communication between any two points on earth. In synergy with the ‘classical’ Internet that we have today, a Quantum Internet will connect quantum processors to achieve unparalleled capabilities that are provably impossible using classical communication.

The European Quantum Internet Alliance (QIA) is an established team consisting of partners from industry, research & technology organizations (RTOs), and academia, whose wide-ranging interdisciplinary expertise complements each other to address all challenges towards building a world-first prototype of a large-scale quantum network in Europe. QIA was first established in 2017 when European leaders in the field QuTech (TU Delft and TNO), ICFO, University of Innsbruck, and the Paris Centre for Quantum Computing joined forces to explore ways to develop a long-term collaboration at European level with the capability of pushing scientific and technology developments world-wide towards building a large-scale Quantum Internet. One year later this led to the Quantum Flagship ramp-up phase project QIA funded by the H2020 FET-FLAGSHIP-03-2018 call which ran from October 2018 to March 2022, with a broader but tightly knit consortium including many of the world-wide academic and industrial leaders in Europe (see

In this project, the Quantum Internet Alliance (QIA) has achieved all its primary goals, including several world first demonstrations of Quantum Internet technology, and was selected into the world’s top 5 most influential technology projects in 2021 (Project Management Institute) – the highest ranked quantum technology project, and only European quantum project in the list.
Technology highlights include:
• The world’s first three-node network connecting quantum processors. This network showcased the ability to produce entanglement between two diamond processors not directly connected by an optical fiber via an intermediary third node (also a diamond processor) without post-selection. In doing so, QIA also developed a phase-stabilized architecture that allows for more nodes to be added. Quantum processors connected to a quantum network can be used as sophisticated end nodes, paving the way for users to run advanced quantum network applications in the future.
• The world’s first quantum software and network stack. This stack was integrated with, and tested on the above multi-node network, and allows applications to be programmed in platform-independent software and run on the first quantum network operating system (QNodeOS), which was made by QIA. This makes QIA’s processing nodes programmable in high-level platform-independent software without the need to understand the physics of the underlying devices. QIA’s stack also includes the first link layer protocol, which turns entanglement generation into a reliable and platform-independent service, akin to the function of classical link layer protocols such as Ethernet or WiFi.
• An elementary link of a quantum repeater extendable to long distances that is state-of-the-art world-wide. This link enables heralded entanglement generation between two rare-earth ion quantum memories at telecom wavelengths at record rates, and opens the door to linking diverse quantum devices in metropolitan networks via long-distance repeater backbones in future developments. Such backbones would pave the way for making advanced quantum network applications available to distant users, and enabling end-to-end secure communication over long distances.
• A Blueprint for how to scale QIA’s technology to the next step. QIA has built an extensive simulation platform using its discrete event simulator for quantum networks (NetSquid), including models for QIA devices and parameter optimization on the HPC system of SURF. This allows QIA to understand the requirements of building quantum networks on real-world fiber networks.
• Innovative components including, for example, a novel processed CVD diamond material (ElementSIX)an external cavity diode laser with a 1 kHz linewidth (TOPTICA), and world record high-resolution FPGA based time-to-digital converters (Swabian Instruments), that are already showing commercial value beyond the domain of quantum communication technologies.

QIA has also made many other advancements including – for example – creating entanglement between two Ion Trap processors across campus, a quantum logic gate between distant nodes based on Neutral atoms, and a record quantum memory efficiency in cold atom based quantum memories. QIA also developed the ability to connect its Ion Trap and diamond processors at telecom wavelengths. This showcases QIA’s broad capabilities, and allows several possible paths towards realizing QIA’s ambition of building large scale quantum networks in the future.
Next to these technological accomplishments, QIA has also made significant progress towards building an innovative European ecosystem in the field of Quantum Internet. Examples include new European startups (WeLinQ, Q*Bird) commercializing QIA technology, as well as platforms made available to the community including the Quantum Protocol Zoo, listing many known application protocols. QIA believes in the power of community, and in the second part of the project also released Quantum Network Explorer (QNE) in order to contribute to building a world-wide Quantum Internet Community. QNE is a unique online platform enabling application software development on QIA platforms using QIA’s platform-independent software stack. QNE offers the opportunity to later make QIA’s hardware platforms – and others in the world – available to anyone online to explore application and software development, and is currently the only such platform in the world.

To engage with the world-wide community and establish standards, QIA has co-founded and is presently co-leading the Quantum Internet Research Group in the IRTF of IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force), a leading standards body in the domain of classical networking. QIA also engages with other standardization bodies (e.g. CEN-CENELEC) to exchange on future standards.

QIA’s ambition now is to scale its technology, and build a prototype network that has the potential to become the first of its kind in the world. Specifically, building on the results above, QIA aims to realize two metropolitan scale networks containing quantum processors, connected by a long-distance fiber backbone using quantum repeaters. The inter-connection of two distinct networks will demonstrate QIA’s ability for inter-networking, paving the way towards a true Quantum Internet that connects many more metropolitan networks via a long-distance backbones across Europe.
Quantum Internet, an artist's impression