Founded as a collaboration between TNO and Delft University of Technology, QuTech is the global leader in quantum technology research and, in recent years, has also emerged as an incubator for new companies. One of the potentially marketable technologies developed by QuTech is NetSquid, a simulation tool used to design and test quantum networks. This is a growing market: over the next few years the focus of quantum internet research will shift from academia to industrial applications. Simulation is the vital link between the two.
The market has high expectations of quantum computing and quantum networks. But first, the technology and the necessary infrastructure have to prove viable. And since the research is still at an early stage, at this point academics and market operators have to rely on demonstrations and pilot projects. NetSquid is simulation software that experts within QuTech have been working on for years. In 2020, it was made freely available to scientific users.
Used for European research
NetSquid is already playing an important role in the European Quantum Internet Alliance (QIA), which is part of the European Quantum Technologies Flagship programme, an EU research and innovation initiative that has been awarded €1 billion for scientific research that moves quantum technology from the lab to the market.
NetSquid is also being used as a modelling and simulation tool for the European Quantum Communication Infrastructure initiative. The aim of this initiative is to create an ultra-secure and multipurpose pan-European quantum internet to stimulate the economy and protect society against cyber threats. In the spring of 2021, the Netherlands’ National Growth Fund committed more than €600 million to support the strengthening of the Dutch quantum sector.
From lab to practice
While considerable progress has been made in the field of quantum networks, the development of a quantum internet as envisaged by the European Commission is still in its infancy. Quantum internet will enable completely secure communication and allow quantum devices, such as quantum computers and quantum sensors, to connect with each other. This will open up possibilities for many new applications. But before we reach that point, innovations developed in the lab have to be translated into practice. This involves simulation as an essential step in the design process.
The NetSquid simulation tool is ahead of the market and provides an ideal environment for companies and government agencies to experiment with quantum networks. Potential users include telecom companies, financial institutions, meteorology services, defence departments and any other parties with an interest in these networks and the breakthrough applications they will enable.
TNO is keen to talk to academics and market operators who wish to be involved in the emerging field of quantum technology and its promising applications.