Strathclyde, Singapore team on satellite quantum communications

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

The University of Strathclyde in Scotland has signed a a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National University of Singapore (NUS) for joint experiments in satellite quantum communications.

Under the agreement, the universities will coordinate so that optical ground stations used by the institutions are able to receive signals from satellites operated by each other.  

The MoU is designed to build an international team that shares a consensus on the range of wavelengths used in quantum communications experiments from satellites. Frequency coordination efforts of this kind are regularly carried out in conventional communications. 

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Enhanced communication between the universities’ respective satellites and ground stations will strengthen partnerships in quantum research between the universities. 

Strathclyde leads the International Network in Space Quantum Technologies, which tackles the challenges of taking terrestrial quantum technologies into space. It is developing satellite-enabled quantum-secure communication, quantum sensing and timing, with applications in combating climate change, space weather forecasting, satellite navigation, extra-terrestrial surveying, fundamental science and enabling a quantum internet.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate truly global communications secured through quantum means,” said Dr Daniel Oi, Senior Lecturer in Strathclyde’s Department of Physics. 

Associate Professor Alexander Ling, a Principal Investigator at the Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT) at NUS, said: “Through this MoU, we will ensure that our respective satellites and ground stations can talk to each other so that we can do joint work on quantum communication.”  

Previously, Dr Oi and Professor Ling collaborated to develop quantum entangled photon sources suitable for satellites, to translate laboratory systems into miniaturised components capable of functioning under the harsh conditions of launch and orbit, and to enable the development of space quantum technologies.  

CubeSats measuring 10 × 10 × 10 cm were used for the rapid development and testing of devices and systems at a much faster rate and lower cost than traditional space engineering programmes. The team’s work culminated in the launch of the nanosatellite SpooQy-1 in 2019. This work has inspired similar CubeSat space quantum technology projects worldwide. 

A Quantum Technology Cluster is embedded in the Glasgow City Innovation District, an initiative driven by Strathclyde along with Glasgow City Council, Scottish Enterprise, Entrepreneurial Scotland and Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. It is envisaged as a global place for quantum industrialisation, attracting companies to co-locate, accelerate growth, improve productivity and access world-class research technology and talent at Strathclyde.

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