Enabling quantum-secure communication with SATCOM technology

QKD terminals and sub systems

Within ten years, quantum computers will be able to do calculations that are fundamentally impossible today. But with all that power, some significant threats arise. Specifically, quantum computers will be able to decipher many of the currently used encryption methods, rendering some of today’s security systems obsolete. TNO experts in Quantum Technology, Space Instrumentation and ICT are working on the solutions today for the challenges of tomorrow.

Innovation through partnership

In order to take advantage of the possibilities of quantum computing, and protect ourselves against agents who aim to use it to do harm, TNO partners with public and private organisations to explore quantum technology and design the systems that will secure our future. After all, the only way to protect our data and communications is to prepare in advance for these powerful technological innovations. With Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), two parties can exchange secure encryption keys to make their exchanges hacker-proof, now and in the quantum era.


Thanks to the unique combination of multidisciplinary knowledge and experience, TNO is active in the entire development chain for quantum and optical satellite communication: from an in-depth understanding of how the technology works to designing, building and testing new, groundbreaking solutions. Such as satellite and ground-based systems that make it possible to transmit quantum information worldwide, enabling secure, encrypted data transfer between users around the globe.

Projects that enhance understanding

Two key projects are actively seeking answers to key questions about how businesses can use the technology to their advantage. The first, SeQure, is a TKI project in which ABN AMRO, QuTech and TNO Space are exploring how to ensure safe and secure data and financial exchanges in the quantum age. That includes developing the systems that will enable Measurement Device Independent-Quantum Key Distribution (MDI-QKD) via a combination of fiber and free space. This will allow multiple financial institutions to connect to each other and exchange unique encryption keys that protect their crucial data. SeQure will result in a lab demonstrator, combining fibre and free space links, providing proof of concept for the technology that could secure future financial transactions.

A second project, GEOQKD, is a TKI study in which TNO has partnered with French satellite operator Eutelsat. The project aims to prove feasibility of entanglement-based QKD from a satellite in geostationary orbit, thereby enabling private users to generate highly secure encryption keys from quantum signals sent by the satellite. Now that TNO has proven feasibility, we are working on early designs for the optical and quantum systems to make it a reality.

Collaboration that advances industries

The more we know, understand and apply these emerging quantum technologies, the more effectively we can use them to their full potential. TNO aims to bridge the gap between scientific discovery and commercial application in our independent and pre-competitive testing facilities. We invite equipment manufacturers, technicians, private organisations and industry partners to reach out. Together, we can use our knowledge and expertise to drive the entire quantum technology industry forward, and lead innovation in the coming decade.

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