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TÜV NORD and Leibniz Universität Hannover jointly research tap-proof satellite communication

TÜV NORD and Leibniz Universität Hannover jointly research tap-proof satellite communication
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Cooperation relies on quantum mechanical methods to develop a new security standard

Personal data is constantly being transmitted digitally - whether when logging into a social media account, transferring money via online banking, or making a phone call with a smartphone or landline. In order to protect the privacy of users, but also of authorities and companies, from criminal access to passwords, email addresses and other data, scientists are researching new, tap-proof encryption methods.

With the advent of quantum computers, which have significantly higher data processing rates than classical computer systems, the digital encryption methods currently used can be decrypted and will no longer be secure in the foreseeable future. The Institute of Photonics (IOP) at Leibniz Universität Hannover and ALTER TECHNOLOGY, a company of the TÜV NORD GROUP, have agreed on a research cooperation to close this security gap.

Dr. Dirk Stenkamp, CEO of TÜV NORD GROUP: "Our subsidiary TÜVIT is already working intensively on post-quantum cryptography and is pushing ahead with certification and standardisation activities for quantum applications. The quantum-secure transmission of large amounts of data via satellite is a key technology for being able to implement technological leaps such as autonomous driving across the board."

TÜV NORD and Leibniz Universität Hannover want to jointly develop a highly integrated quantum light source with a new protocol for the generation and exchange of so-called quantum keys (QKD - Quantum Key Distribution). The method uses the quantum phenomena of superposition and entanglement to share cryptographic keys between sender and receiver. With the new technology, tap-proof satellite communication with a range of more than 1,000 kilometres should be possible in the future. Together, the partners want to build a functioning QKD demonstrator during this time.

The TÜV Nord associations TÜV NORD e.V. and TÜV Hannover/Sachsen-Anhalt e.V., two shareholders of the TÜV NORD Group, will support the project over a period of three to four years with an annual grant of 100,000 euros. The Chairman of the Board of TÜV Nord Associations, Dr Guido Rettig: "We invest specifically in innovative projects and thus promote safety for people and technology. The project with Leibniz Universität Hannover on tap-proof satellite communication is exemplary in this respect."

The QKD method is based on so-called quantum light sources that can emit "entangled" photon pairs. Research into such photon pairs was recognised with the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2022. The quantum light source can be used to set up an eavesdropping-proof communication link: As soon as an eavesdropper tries to eavesdrop on the connection protected by QKD, this is detected due to the "entanglement" of the quantum keys used. "Currently, there are no stable efficient and integrated light sources with advanced protocols for this," says Prof. Dr. Michael Kues, head of the Institute of Photonics (IOP) and board member in the Cluster of Excellence PhoenixD at Leibniz Universität Hannover.

Dr. Una Marvet, Head of Photonics Design Centre ALTER TECHNOLOGY, shares this assessment: "Enabling secure quantum communication via satellite requires entangled photon sources that are compact and cost-effective as well as robust enough to perform reliably in the harsh environment of space. By jointly developing a fully integrated light source within the framework of a novel protocol, we hope to produce a device that is compact, robust and scalable".

But until then, the researchers would still have to clarify numerous questions. " To achieve our goal, we have identified several issues related to heat transfer, filter placement and coupling efficiency that will be addressed in the project.," says Muhamed Sewidan, a PhD student involved in the research project. "An important task of universities is the transfer of knowledge and technology," says Kues and emphasises: "With such cooperation projects, doctoral students gain insight into industrial manufacturing and can thus pursue new approaches in research."

PhD student Sewidan will conduct the experiments on the design of the light source in the laser laboratory at Leibniz Universität Hannover Institute of Photonics (IOP) and continue his research at ALTER TECHNOLOGY's Seville and Glasgow sites. The company will then take over the product development.


Since our foundation over 150 years ago, we have been the global byword for security and trust. As a knowledge-based company, we have the digital future firmly in mind. With specialists ranging from engineers and IT security professionals to professionals for the mobility of tomorrow, we use our expertise in over 100 countries to ensure that our customers will be even more successful in the networked world.

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