KAT-2 Quantum Communication Team is a cross-departmental research group developing the next generation of quantum safe communication network.
Dr. Simon Rommel (assistant professor), Dr. Chigo Okonkwo (associate professor) and Prof. dr. Idelfonso Tafur Monroy (full professor) jointly lead the efforts on quantum key distribution and the deployment of the quantum safe communications testbed. Dr. Boris Skoric (associate professor) leads the work on quantum security, while Dr. Kathrin Hövelmanns (assistant professor) and Dr. Andreas Hülsing (associate professor) lead the work on provable security and post-quantum cryptography. Together they lead a team of approx. 25 researchers working on quantum secure communications and the future of quantum communications. In this team, close cross-departmental collaboration focusses on three main areas of work: first, the development of QKD protocols and hardware with integrated photonics (Dr. Okonkwo, Prof. Tafur Monroy, Dr. Skoric), second the integration of QKD and PQC for secure key management and security analysis (Dr. Rommel, Dr. Hövelmanns, Dr. Hülsing), and, third, the integration of quantum secure networks with classical communications, encryption and network control and orchestration (Dr. Rommel, Dr. Okonkwo, Dr. Skoric). The efforts of all team members are integrated through the development and deployment of a testbed for quantum communications, allowing testing of ground-breaking and leading-edge hardware and software in close-to-application settings and with field deployed systems to demonstrate close-to-market secure communications.
Dr. Simon Rommel is an Assistant Professor in the Quantum and Terahertz Systems team in the Electro-Optical Communications Group of the Department of Electrical Engineering. He has a rich background in fibre and radio communications from physical layer to networking and protocols. He leads the deployment of the quantum safe communications testbed within the KAT-2 team and is a focus area leader for the focus area ‘Massively Connected Society’ within the EHCI.
Dr. Chigo Okonkwo is an Associate Professor and leads the renowned High-Capacity Optical Transmission laboratory (a team of 15 researchers) in the Electro-Optical Communications Group of the Department of Electrical Engineering. He has a rich background in high-speed optical communications, fibre networks and systems, and signal processing. He leads the developments of Continuous Variable QKD and photonic integrated components for the implementation of CV-QKD. He is a focus area leader for the focus area ‘Quantum Secure Networks’ within the EHCI
Prof. dr. Idelfonso Tafur Monroy is a Full Professor and leads the Quantum and Terahertz Systems team of the Electro-Optical Communications Group of the Department of Electrical Engineering. He has a rich background in fibre and optical access networks, telecommunication systems and networks. He leads the development on multi-protocol QKD and photonic integrated components.
Dr. Boris Skoric is an Associate Professor in the Security group at the Mathematics and Computer Science Department. He has a rich background in information and quantum security and related systems and protocols. He leads the work on security proofs and analysis for QKD systems and the development of novel data encryption schemes.
Dr. Kathrin Hövelmanns is an Assistant Professor in the Applied and Provable Security group at Mathematics and Computer Science Department which is part of the Coding Theory and Cryptology group. She has a rich background in security models and analysis for post-quantum and QKD systems. She leads the work on modelling and analysis of security for the key relaying and distribution in quantum-safe networks.
Dr. Andreas Hülsing an Associate Professor leading the Applied and Provable Security group at Mathematics and Computer Science Department which is part of the Coding Theory and Cryptology group. He has a rich background in post-quantum cryptography and provable security. He leads the work on post-quantum cryptography. He is a focus area leader for the focus area ‘Quantum Secure Networks’ within the EHCI.
Quantum communications is the next big frontier in telecommunications and quantum-safe communication networks are the first step in this direction. Quantum key distribution (QKD) and post-quantum cryptography (PQC) are the essential building blocks of this first step and key to maintaining secure communications despite the rise of quantum computing. The KAT-2 team takes a unique full-stack approach in their research, ranging from building hardware for advanced QKD protocols based on integrated photonics, over developing novel quantum safe communications protocols to integrating quantum and classical communications in an advanced testbed. The combination of photonic integration and advanced, novel QKD protocols allows the team to miniaturize systems and show the path to reducing cost, which – together with the integration of PQC – maximizes the use that can be made by the superior security offered by QKD. The deployment of a large-scale open testbed for quantum safe communication puts the team also at the forefront of demonstrating QKD in the field, integrating it with classical networks and making it available to the world – an effort which in its scale and full-stack nature is worldwide unique.
Taking quantum communications towards applicability in actual application settings requires the integration of PQC, QKD and classical telecommunication networking. QKD originates from a quantum physics and optical communications background and the development of systems requires rich expertise in this area, while security proofs and security analysis require expertise in mathematics and information theory – a combination of expertise only found in the collaboration between the Electro-Optical Communications (EE, ECO) and Security (M&CS) groups. PQC originates from a cryptography and security protocols background and was initially developed separately from developments in QKD – as a result, their integration in a practical quantum safe communications solution requires the expertise of the ECO and Applied and Provable Security (M&CS) groups. Only through the combination of the required expertise and the tight cooperation between the involved groups and departments (supported by the 1st Phase National Growth Funds on Quantum Technology and the European Quantum Communications Infrastructure) has the team been able to simultaneously address the full-stack development on various topics required for establishing real-world quantum safe communications in the Netherlands and beyond towards the EU.