Thales plots to secure Europe against attacks from quantum computers

As a driving force in the second quantum revolution, Thales has joined forces with around twenty deep technology, academic and industry partners across Europe, as part of the EuroQCI initiative (European Quantum Communication Infrastructure), which aims to deploy a quantum communication infrastructure for EU member states within three years.

Why is the initiative a timely one?

By 2040, quantum computers could use their computational power to decode encrypted data, incomparably threatening the security of even the best-protected communication systems. EuroQCI aims to counter that threat by developing sovereign systems to protect the communications and data assets of critical infrastructure providers and govt institutions.

The longer-term objective of the initiative is to create a Quantum Information Network (QIN) that will harness the power of quantum entanglement not only to guarantee communications security but also to create networks of quantum sensors and processors, which can drive exponential increases in the performance of quantum sensors and quantum computers.

Thales teams taking part in the projects are working to develop quantum key generation, distribution and management equipment and the associated communication encryption devices, and defining the architecture of these quantum communication infrastructures.

Thales operates the largest quantum physics research facilities in Europe, in partnership with the CNRS, and 100 engineers and researchers are currently engaged in the development of the quantum solutions (sensors, communications and algorithms) that will play a foundational role in tomorrow’s world. These new consortia will all benefit from Thales’s multi-disciplinary expertise, in particular in the field of secure communication networks.

What are the latest Thales collaborations in Europe?

As part of this effort, the organization is now breaking new ground as a member of multiple new consortia that have been set up since late 2022 in these domains:

  • Quantum repeaters, with the Delft University: QIA (Quantum Internet Alliance) – led by the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands – is working to demonstrate the feasibility of connecting users in two metropolitan areas 500 km apart, using quantum repeaters, which can compensate for the loss of information via a quantum memory;
  • Quantum key distribution: QKISS – coordinated by Exail – and QUARTER – led by LuxQuanta – are developing Quantum Key Distribution systems to protect users’ critical communications from cyberattacks.
  • Certification of quantum communication: PETRUS – led by Deutsche Telekom – is the official coordinator of 32 EuroQCI projects, on behalf of the European Commission. It is also developing a framework for certification and accreditation of quantum communication products and networks.
  • Satellites quantum communications: TeQuantS – led by Thales Alenia Space – aims at developing quantum space-to-Earth communications technologies, necessary for cybersecurity applications and future quantum information networks, through the construction of satellites and optical ground stations by the end of 2026.