Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) uses quantum mechanics to guarantee secure communication. It enables two parties to produce a shared random secret key known only to them, which can then be used to encrypt and decrypt messages. QKD is rapidly becoming a commercial reality. The devices developed so far rely on the transmission of suitable quantum states of light through the fibre networks. The maximum distance achievable is currently 100-200 km due to fibre loss. To overcome this limit, satellite QKD is starting to be investigated, because of the possibility of achieving much longer distances, with only a few km of propagation taking place in the atmosphere. There is thus a clear market opportunity in developing a compact source of the necessary quantum states of light.
QUEST project is a technical feasibility study with the purpose of investigating the commercial development of a source of polarisation entangled photons suitable for satellite deployment. By actually developing and assembling a compact, fully packaged source OPTOCAP aims at defining the technical and conceptual challenges in developing such a device, as well as its commercial opportunities. The outcomes of this project can be the establishment of a specific route (and thus a leading position) towards the actual product commercialisation or the definition of the necessary technological breakthroughs for this to occur.