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Fraunhofer IPMS announces government funding for quantum photonic chip

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Fraunhofer IPMS has announced that the German Ministry for Research and Education BMBF is funding the chip-based quantum random device (CBQD) project for research into quantum-safe high-speed communications. The project seeks to develop a compact chip that generates random numbers at high speed based on quantum photonic effects, and meets the requirements of the Common Criteria for IT product security. The chip is intended to become the basis for numerous IT security applications. Fraunhofer IPMS is responsible for coordination and QNRG chip integration in the project.

In IT security, random numbers are of enormous importance as they are used for cryptographic procedures such as key generation, thus ensuring the security of data in terms of confidentiality, integrity and authenticity. Quantum random number generators (QRNGs) use quantum mechanical phenomena such as the decay of atoms or photon phase noise from laser sources to generate unpredictable and random data, promising the highest possible security because the output values are based on the quantum mechanical principles of indeterminacy and superposition. They provide secure random number generation for future communication systems and can be used in various fields such as government, banking, critical infrastructure and the Internet of Things.

“In the project, we will develop a compact QRNG chip with a noise bit rate of 5 Gbit/s,” explains Christoph Posenau, project manager at Fraunhofer IPMS. “The noise bit rate is a decisive factor for the speed in random number generation. The goal is to combine high speed with a compact design, while meeting the requirements of Common Criteria AIS 20/31 PTG.3, a standard for security requirements for IT products of the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI).”

The project to implement the QRNG chip uses advanced silicon-germanium technologies to develop electrophotonic integrated circuits (EPIC) to create a fully integrated solution with laser source, waveguide structures, photodiodes and analogue/digital signal processing. As part of the project, the QRNG solution is planned to be tested in two Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) applications. The interdisciplinary project team combines extensive expertise from quantum theory to security proofs, security-by-design experience for RNGs, silicon photonics to QKD systems and their integration in applications.

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