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Quantum Key Distribution – new level of cyber security

Quantum Optics Jena”: Quantum technology start-up from Fraunhofer IOF successfully concludes seed financing for the development of highly secure communication systems

To become a pioneer company for highly secure quantum communication – no less is the goal of »Quantum Optics Jena GmbH«. The latest spin-off from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Mechanics IOF develops quantum-based solutions for state-of-the-art communication systems. Now the founding team has gathered the necessary investors behind them and is working on building the start-up in the heart of Germany.

Digital information and communication are an integral part of everyday life and fundamental to society and the economy. Today computers, optical fiber networks and satellite links connect entire continents and form the basis of the global communication infrastructure. Today, the security and sovereignty of data is secured by complex mathematical algorithms and cryptography solutions. With the highly dynamic development of the quantum computer, completely new types of computing power are possible, which pose a threat to classic encryption methods.

Quantum physics also provides the answer to this challenge: on the basis of physical laws, quantum optics enables completely new concepts for generating encryption methods and for the physically secure transmission of information. The secure key for the encryption and the exchange of information is carried out using quantum physical methods. This quantum key distribution (QKD for short) enables the physically measurable, secure exchange of information.

Know-how from the Fraunhofer IOF

The start-up “Quantum Optics Jena” (QOJ) is a spin-off of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Mechanics IOF, which has been successfully active in the field of quantum communication and imaging for several years. “In the last few years, we at Fraunhofer IOF have been able to prove that they are ready for technology for entangled photon sources. As “Quantum Optics Jena” we are now combining the natural laws of quantum mechanics with the know-how in the development and manufacture of optical systems in order to offer socially usable solutions, ”explains Dr. Oliver de Vries, technical director of the Thuringian young company. “Our goal is to build a pioneering company for tap-proof communication in information technology in the heart of Germany,” adds Managing Director Dr. Kevin Foxel.

Prof. Andreas Tünnermann, director of the Fraunhofer IOF, also welcomes the entrepreneurial step taken by the former employees: “Quantum technology is one of the most pioneering fields of research and development of our time. I am pleased to see how young founders transfer the knowledge they have gathered at Fraunhofer IOF into their own companies and thus into new innovations. ”

Rapid development of the start-up with the investors

The investors are convinced of the idea: The triumvirate of ELAS Technologies GmbH, Fraunhofer Technologie-Transfer Fonds GmbH and Beteiligungsmangement Thüringen (bm | t) believe in the future of quantum technologies and are investing a seven-figure sum in »Quantum Optics Jena GmbH”. “We are delighted that we have set up an outstanding team of investors for› Quantum Optics Jena ‹over the past few weeks. Now the company has the necessary clout to develop and quickly implement your ideas, ”comments Matthias Keckl from the Fraunhofer Technology Transfer Fund (FTTF).

First products in preparation

In the coming weeks, the team will be working intensively on realizing their first own product: a compact and high-performance entangled photon source for quantum key distribution or quantum optical experiments. Dr. Oliver de Vries explains: “In the next step we will be able to provide our customers with complete QKD systems in order to counter cyber attacks and the dangers of quantum computers.”

The first products from “Quantum Optics Jena” are already in preparation. This includes a miniaturized entangled photon source with more than a million entangled photon pairs at 780 nm and 840 nm wavelength.

But that’s not all: The QOJ team continues to work closely with the Fraunhofer IOF and is currently working on a new idea for quantum imaging, which could soon be used in medical technology or material analysis.

Involved partners

Fraunhofer IOF

The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Mechanics IOF, based in Jena, researches the (further) development of light as a means of solving a wide variety of questions and application scenarios. The work of the research institute, founded in 1992, therefore focuses on application-oriented research on the creation of light, light guidance and light measurement. Together with researchers from basic research and industry, innovative solutions are created that represent a technological advantage in science and industry and open up new fields of application for photonics.

Investment management Thuringia (bm | t)

Bm-t Beteiligungsmanagement Thüringen, based in Erfurt – a subsidiary of Thüringer Aufbaubank – is the first address for venture capital investments in Thuringia. Bm | t currently manages ten investment funds with a total volume of 440 million euros and invests in innovative companies with strong growth potential across all industries and all phases of the corporate life cycle.

Fraunhofer Technologie-Transfer Fonds GmbH (FTTF)

The Fraunhofer Technologie-Transfer Fonds is a venture capital fund with a volume of 60 million euros that provides start-ups with Fraunhofer technologies with capital of 250,000 to 5 million euros in the challenging early phases. Supported by the European Investment Fund (EIF) and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the FTTF supports the founding teams as an entrepreneurial partner.

ELAS Technologies GmbH (ELAS)

ELAS Technology Investment GmbH is a Germany-based but globally oriented financial investor based in Achim in northern Germany. ELAS was founded to provide financial and infrastructural support to promising companies and organizations in the global photonics and high-tech industry. German industry has unmatched competencies in these technology areas.

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