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Quantum Sciences Components for Space Applications


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Space Platforms 

OBJECTIVE: To develop advanced quantum sciences communications components such as: high brightness entangled pair sources, photon counting detectors, quantum random number generators, optical components, subsystems, and systems for applications in the space environment (low Earth orbit to geosynchronous Earth orbit). 

DESCRIPTION: Future Army communications systems will be implemented in a harsh adversarial environment whereas encryption hardware and algorithms will be required. Following the onset of future quantum computational systems modern day encryption and communication systems will be at risk. A potential solution to secure high bandwidth communications is quantum entanglement based optical communications channels. For these quantum channels to exist future satellite networks must contain such systems. Therefore, space environment hardened long lifecycle components for quantum communications must be developed. The challenge is to develop advanced quantum entanglement components and experiments for communications networks that can survive in space. The specific technical challenges to be addressed include: • violation of Bell’s inequality • Data teleportation • Quantum key distribution (QKD) and entanglement based protocols • Quantum state tomography While these components and experiments may be at low technology readiness levels (TRL) in Phase I it is expected that a pathway to TRL maturation will be achieved through Phase II with potential flight experiments in Phase III. A goal of this SBIR is to develop components and/or subsystems and systems that will enable a demonstration of entanglement based high bandwidth encrypted communications between space based satellites. 

PHASE I: The phase I effort will result in analysis and design of the proposed components and experiments. The phase I effort shall include a final report with modeling, simulation, and/or experimental results supporting performance claims. The method for performing entanglement based communications will be documented. 

PHASE II: The Phase I designs will be utilized to fabricate, test and evaluate a breadboard system. The designs will then be modified as necessary to produce a final prototype for flight qualification testing. Flight qualification testing can be proposed as a Phase II option. The final prototypes will be demonstrated to highlight the specific capabilities and performance in meeting the technical challenges. A complete demonstration system (of the breadboard and/or prototype system(s)) must also be provided by the offeror. At the end of the Phase II flight qualification option it is expected that the prototype will be at TRL 6. 

PHASE III: Civil, commercial and military applications include high bandwidth secure site-to-site communications channels. The Phase III effort would be to design and build a flight experiment payload to demonstrate the particular proposed performance characteristics on an orbiting platform (i.e., small satellite, ISS platform, other). Military funding for this Phase III effort would be executed by the US Army Space and Missile Defense Technical Center as part of its Quantum Entanglement and Space Technology research. 


1: "Tiangong2". China Space Report. 28 April 2017. Retrieved 12 Nov 2017.

KEYWORDS: High Brightness Entangled Pair Sources, Photon Counting Detectors, Quantum Random Number Generators, Optical Components 

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