15, April 2022

ESA Open Invitation to Tender: 1-10488
Open Date: 11/04/2022 10:40 CEST
Closing Date: 24/06/2022 13:00 CEST

Objective:The objective of the activity is to develop a high count-rate entangled photon source (space segment) plus a complementary photon counting detector with enhanced quantum efficiency, timing resolution and decreased dead time (ground segment)Targeted Improvements:Enable Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) with an increased secure QKD bit-rate from a geosynchronous orbit (GEO)Description:Quantum key distribution (QKD) is considered one of the most advanced quantum technologies needed in bringing secure quantum communications to the commercial market.For secure quantum communication, it is necessary to be able to securely distribute keys between the two users communicating. It is usual that this is achieved using a single distribution point (i.e. a satellite) that is trusted by both parties. However if it is the case that each user has their own receiver, but no common trusted point to distribute the keys, an alternative means is needed. This may be achieved using an entangled photon source (EPS), where mutually entangled photons are sent to the two users simultaneously, providing secure key information.It would thus be advantageous to place an EPS in a geosynchronous orbit, allowing the exchange of keys between parties spread over one hemisphere and without a common distribution point.An issue though is the large link loss, caused by the distance from the GEO satellite to the two users, resulting in a low key rate, making it difficult to quantify the business case.This activity shall address this shortcoming by targeting a GEO based Quantum KeyDistribution (QKD) system and comparing different solutions to be able to achieve a >10 bits/s secure key rate with a transmission loss budget of about 60dB (both downlinks combined). The most promising one identified and verified shall then be demonstrated at breadboard level.

Estabilishment: ESTEC
ECOS Required: No
Classified: No
Price Range: > 500 KEURO
Authorised Contact Person: Nathalie Dorval
Initiating Service: TIA-TIS
IP Measure: N/A
Prog. Reference: E/0534-05A – OP-Other Act. Prod.
Tender Type: Open Competition
Technology Keywords: 17-C-V-Quantum Devices
Products Keywords: 2-G-1.1-a-Detectors *See AOCS&GNC / 2-G-1.1-c-Laser sources, modulators

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