Augmentation of Space-based Quantum Key Distribution with CubeSat Systems

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Abstract

CubeSats (< 10 kg nanosatellites, with dimensions 10-40 cm) offer a cost-effective and rapidly deployed opportunity to both
provide proof-of-concept to a wider market and technology raising. In some instances, they are also part of the final
service delivery; for example, in the case of Planet which augments larger satellites with CubeSats for responsive Earth
observation. This feasibility study seeks to determine the extent to which the momentum and agility of the CubeSat
marketplace and the progress made in overall performance can be applied and aligned to support and capitalise on the
emergence of space-based Quantum Key Distribution, harnessing the developments already underway within the UK in
payload systems. QKD offers a highly secure method for key distribution critical to modern data systems security from
financial transactions to military communications. The work will inform mission architecture, interface specification, system
testing and development roadmaps, and further provide a systems-view across stakeholders. The approach will identify
opportunities to accelerate and augment the technology or service readiness of space-based QKD using CubeSats.

Planned Impact

The current QKD market is estimated at 30 MUSD, growing significantly as existing secure methods become compromised
or with the disruptive need / regulatory requirement for quantum-secure cryptographic systems. One comprehensive
market study [Jennewein, 2014], estimates 400 MUSD per year generated by space-based QKD systems within two
decades.
A compelling argument for a gradual shift to quantum-secured cryptography, is the rising cost of cybercrime coupled with
exposure of weaknesses in conventional systems and the emergence of quantum computing. Whilst the true costs are
sometimes difficult to estimate given reluctance to admit or a failure to recognise breaches, reports indicate that the cost to
the US economy through cybercrime is up to 100 BUSD a year [Jeannot, 2013]. A UK survey [Sophos, 2011] found that
data security was amongst the top concerns of consumers, and that firms losing confidential data would be negatively
impacted.
Within the team, BT Research and Innovation can provide insight as both a customer and service provider, providing input
as to the use cases and service delivery planning. The former, on the basis of its own networks where future progression
of modern protocols neccessitate distributed server and secure reconfiguration of its global control plane infrastructure.
The latter, as provider of critical communications infrastructure for major telecommunication players globally. In this
context CubeSats are seen for their potential to serve in establishing tactical or geographically remote nodes within
networks.
NewSpace has already helped to grow the UK space industry and export market, drawing investment from venture capital
in the US and elsewhere through 'silicon valley' modelled companies such as Spire and Kepler, driven by providing niche
data products or services. A typical satellite bus can sell for < 200-500 kGBP each dependent upon the complexity, with
each constellation requiring 10-100s of satellites. To date, from the clean rooms of Clyde Space Ltd based in Glasgow,
Spire report to be building a satellite a week, with 20 launched to date, and more ready and waiting for launch. Their
decisions to base and partner with the UK helps to grow a highly skilled local workforce, both within and throughout the UK
Presenting a solution or part-solution for space-based QKD using the now recognised CubeSat bus, presents venture with
a viable entry point for investment, and harnesses the ever increasing performance capabilities of these small space
systems. Identifying and developing niche applications for these systems will help to create or sustain employment both
downstream and upstream. It also can facilitate an earlier launch opportunity due to the standardised interfaces (PODs)
allowing CubeSats to fly on almost all Low Earth Orbit launches with minimal reconfiguration.
Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, is emerging as a centre for NewSpace and CubeSats in the UK, complementing
existing excellence centred around Surrey in small satellites. A number of companies, including Spire, Clyde Space, Alba
Orbital, and Bright Ascension all offer solutions into this market. The growth of NewSpace has allowed companies such as
Clyde Space Ltd to grow from < 10 to near 100 in less than five years.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We developed a plan for using Cube Sattelites for exchanging quantum keys between ground and sattelite. This involved preliminary measurements on pointing and tracking systems and miniaturisation to fit satellite space restrictions.
Exploitation Route The outcomes feed out into our wider quantum technology portfolio and have become a key part of the second phase of the quantum communications technology hub
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Security and Diplomacy

 
Description Our work is now being applied in two follow on projects: The ROKS mission funded by UKSA and led by Craft Prospect Ltd The quantum communication hub CUBESAT mission funded by EPSRC and led by York University (see follow on funding links)
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Security and Diplomacy
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description AIRQKD
Amount £5,791,335 (GBP)
Funding ID 45364 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2020 
End 06/2023
 
Description ROKS DISCOVERY
Amount £350,000 (GBP)
Organisation UK Space Agency 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2020 
End 04/2021
 
Description The EPSRC Quantum Communications Hub
Amount £23,961,861 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/T001011/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2019 
End 11/2024
 
Description Heriot Watt University: Programme grant 
Organisation Heriot-Watt University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Funded the team of Prof Gerald Buller from our Engineering Quantum Photonics
Collaborator Contribution Germanium on silicon photon counting detectors. Quantum Rangefinding demonstrations (in QUANTIC)
Impact Highest efficiency single channel germanium on silicon photon counting detectors working at 125K with performance comparable to InGaAs detectors (publication pending)
Start Year 2014
 
Description Strathclyde University 
Organisation University of Strathclyde
Department Faculty of Science
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have developed pointing and tracking capabilities for CUBESAT quantum communication sysyems and the communications hardware
Collaborator Contribution Dr Daniel Oi has designed our satellite QKD system and made detailed modelling of a ground to satellite QKD system in operation
Impact Further funding raised through partnership resource on Quantum communications technology hub Satellite launches are planned
Start Year 2017
 
Description York Quantum communications Quantum Technology Hub 
Organisation University of York
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Integrated quantum photonics for quantum communication. Hand held QKD for financial transactions. Demonstration of quantum networks in Bristol Entanglement networks Various contributions to annual quantum technology hubs
Collaborator Contribution Co-ordination of research and various quantum communications schemes and Cambridge and UK quantum networks.
Impact KETS quantum security spin-out Various publications in the list
Start Year 2014
 
Description 1-4 September Photon 2020 Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Photon 2020 is the major Optics and Photonics conference organised by the Institute of Physics in the UK and the tenth in the biennial series that started in 2002.
Photon participants will have the opportunity to visit exhibitions on the latest in optics and photonics technology, attend lectures from experts in the field, and get up to date with cutting-edge research.
Talks presented by David Lowndes:
Title:"Low cost, short range quantum key distribution"
Authors: David Lowndes - University of Bristol; Stefan Frick - University of Innsbruck; Andy Hart - University of Bristol; John Rarity - University of Bristol
Title: "The Quantum Research Cubesat (QUARC)"
Authors: David Lowndes - University of Bristol; Elliott Hastings - University of Bristol; Siddarth Joshi - University of Bristol; John Rarity - University of Bristol; Peide Zhang - University of Bristol; Ashwin Arulselvan - University of Strathclyde; Marilena Di Carlo - University of Strathclyde; Christopher Gibson - University of Strathclyde; Christopher Lowe - University of Strathclyde; Malcolm Macdonald - University of Strathclyde; Luca Mazzarella - University of Strathclyde; Daniel Oi - University of Strathclyde; Steve Owens - University of Strathclyde; Mateusz Polnik - University of Strathclyde; Annalisa Riccardi - University of Strathclyde; Jasminder Sidhu - University of Strathclyde; Colin Aitken - Craft Prospect; Cassandra Mercury - Craft Prospect; Sonali Mohapatra - Craft Prospect

Poster session from the following UoB students:
"Near- to mid-infrared emission using GaAs1-xBix/GaAs1-yNy type-II superlattice structures" - Zoe Davidson, University of Bristol, UK
"Shrinking of direct laser written 3D polymeric diamond lattice structures by thermal annealing to move bandgap into the visible range" - Yu-Shao Chen, University of Bristol, UK
"Enhancement of single photon emission efficiency from aperture enhanced Tamm plasmon structures"- Huili Hou, University of Bristol, UK
"Cube Satellite based Quantum Communication" - Elliott Hastings, University of Bristol, UK
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.iopconferences.org/iop/frontend/reg/thome.csp?pageID=767801&eventID=1255
 
Description BQIT (Bristol Quantum Information Technologies) Workshop 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This is the annual quantum information workshop organised by Bristol, chared again this year by Prof John Rarity
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.flickr.com/photos/cqpbristol/sets/72157694318687751
 
Description BQIT2019 1-3April 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact 150 attendees to BQIT 2019. Promoted research in Bristol and created new relationships with external parties
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.bristol.ac.uk/physics/research/quantum/conferences/bqit-workshop/
 
Description CLEO Europe 23-27 June 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact International Conference with 500 plus attendees. John Rarity chaired sessions on Quantum Information Processing and Nanoclassical Light. Conference raised discussions on Quantum related activity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Handheld QKD - Bristol-Oxford-Cognizant - Collaboration extension workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact 100 attendees
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description QCRYPT 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Professor John Rarity FRS was on the programme committee

Two UoB students took part in the poster session:

Friederike title:
Advances towards a Trojan Horse Attack on Chip Scale QKD - Friederike Jöhlinger1,2, Henry Semenenko1,2, Djeylan Aktas2, Phil Sibson3, Chris Erven2,3, John Rarity2
Abstract: "Integrated optics o?er a way for quantum key distribution (QKD) to become mainstream, due to its small size, excellent optical stability and the infrastructure for mass production available from standard telecom technology. However, there has been very little research into the security of chip-scale QKD systems, so far. In this poster the potential for a Trojan Horse Attack (THA) on an indium phosphide transmitter chip [1] is discussed. In a THA, Eve sends her own light into the QKD system and gains information about the state of the system and hence about the key from analysing the backscattered light. This attack has been successfully demonstrated on QKD systems using ?bre optic components [2]. Here we will discuss how the attack can be adapted to a chip-scale system, includingan analysis of re?ections in the chip."

Peide Zhang title: Timing and Noise Tolerant Absolute Pulse Numbering for CubeSat QKD - Zhang, P.1, Hastings, E.1, Lowndes, D.1, Joshi, S,1, Rarity, J.1, Oi, D.2, Mercury, C.3, Sidhu, J.2, Greenland, S.3, Mazzarella, L.4, McNeil, D.3, Mohapatra, S3.
Abstract: Space-based quantum key distribution (QKD) overcomes the limits of distance between terrestrial users caused by losses in optical fibre [1]. To further promote the commercial application, we present our CubeSat payload design which has a more economically viable key-rate [2]. The system is designed for polarisation based BB84/Decoy-State protocol with 100Mhz key transmission rate. In order to avoid the light pollution near the metropolitan centres and provide flexibility, we present our progress towards a mobile OGS which will be able to act as a receiver for the quantum signal. The payload is only2Uinstalled in a 6U Cube Satellite.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://2020.qcrypt.net
 
Description Quantum Graphic Novel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We wrote a graphic novel chapter detailing in an entertaining way the development of secure communications from ancient times until today where we research quantum secured communications
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018,2019
URL https://www.bristol.ac.uk/physics/research/quantum/engagement/light-keys/
 
Description Quantum Technology showcase November 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Showcase of quantum technologies.
We have exhibited:
Hand held quantum key distributions
Chip-scalequantum key distribution
Quantum light sources for sub-shot noise measurement
Quantum pair photn sources for rangefinging
Remote gas sensing using single photon detection
Quantum network technologies
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016,2017,2018,2019
URL http://uknqt.epsrc.ac.uk/news-and-events/events/
 
Description Workshop on QTX -3 2019: Quantum Technologies in Space, Friday 27 September 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Workshop held on quantum technologies and cubesats at the Celtic Manor Resort, Wales. Raised focus on quantum comms and the technologies that facilitate delivery from cubesats, but also on specific issues e.g. SWAP constraints and space qualification from components to missions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019