The five days of ESOF2020 were marked by a renewed desire for discussion and sharing on issues of great scientific and social impact of our time, after months of distancing. ESOF's bet that Trieste in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic could reconnect and rekindle an increasingly necessary dialogue between science, politics, economy and society seems to have been won: with 150 events, more than 700 speakers, and remote connections from all over the world to follow the high-profile panels proposed by this first hybrid edition, with face-to-face and remote sessions that have run continuously since September 2nd.
During the closing ceremony of ESOF2020 - EuroScience Open Forum, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte took part in a public demonstration of encrypted fiber optic communication with Italian quantum technology, performed for the first time in Italy. The demonstration was carried out by the "Quantum Communications" group of the National Research Council (CNR) of Florence thanks to the "Quantum FVG" project, funded by the Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia and coordinated by the University of Trieste.
The demonstration were introduced by the CNR President Massimo Inguscio: “Research builds the future and will be an essential element for reconstruction. Quantum technologies represent a new transversal paradigm, which brings together different fields to offer completely new opportunities in sectors ranging from the simulation of new drugs and materials with quantum computers, to self-driving systems and precision agriculture with quantum sensors, up to the secure transmission of data with quantum communication. The CNR, with its multidisciplinarity, has taken up this challenge also in the European sphere and implements strategies in synergy with other research institutions, the university world, and businesses, to build a future based on knowledge and innovation".
This communication highlights both the impact of quantum technology on security in communication and Italy's contribution to the development of this new technology in Europe. Europe is, in fact, equipping itself with a quantum communication network called EuroQCI, which includes optical-fibre cables and satellites, in order to guarantee both a widespread availability on its territory and long-distance connection. Italy is at the forefront of this field, and is contributing to EuroQCI with its own infrastructures, research centres and universities. Trieste, thanks to its strategic position, has a key role in extending this network to northern and eastern Europe.
Communication security is a top priority for all governments around the world. Different security methods are used depending on the required level of security. The safest method uses two copies of an identical cryptographic key — basically a random sequence of numbers — that are owned by both the sender and the recipient of the message, and can be used only once. However, there is a problem: How can sender and recipient share the same key without creating a security risk? Traditionally the best option is to trust the human or electronic courier in charge of transmitting the key.
Quantum technologies can solve this problem. Whereas normally it is possible to intercept the key and copy it while the sender and the recipient remain unaware of the security breach, this is not possible if they are using quantum keys. Any attempt to make a copy of a quantum key causes the key to change, which can be easily noticed by the recipient by simply comparing parts of the two copies. And this technology and how it works was shown during this public demonstration of quantum communication.
Organisers would like to thank:
For the public demonstration
They Physics Department of the University of Trieste, in particular Alessandro Baraldi, Oliviero Angeli, Francesco Cesa, Mauro d'Achille, and Lorenzo di Giacomo.
The Tecnical Scientific Committee and the Network Operating Center of LightNet.
The Office of Services for Scientific Dissemination of the University of Trieste.
The National Institute of Optics of the CNR, in particular Ilaria Vagniluca, Nicola Biagi, and Francesco Scazza.
The Technical University of Denmark (DTU), especially Davide Bacco.
For the financial support
The Physics Department of the University of Trieste
The project “TEQ: Testing the Large-Scale Limit of Quantum Mechanics”, supported by the Europeanprogramme H2020 (N. 766900).
The NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme.
“Quantum FVG” - University of Trieste
“Quantum FVG” is an infrastructural project supported by the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region and ismanaged and coordinated by the University of Trieste. It is going to start in 2021 and its objective will be to realise a regional network of quantum communication using optical fibre. A city-wide link will be created in Trieste, and it will then be extended at a regional level by linking the cities of Trieste and Udine. The long-term objective is to link the quantum backbone of CNR and INRIM to the Mittleauropean network QUAPITAL (www.quapital.eu), making then a cross-border linkbetween Italy and Northern and Eastern Europe. “Quantum FVG” makes use of the collaborationof LightNet, for the use and the management of the optical fibre network, and the CNR - INO for the development of quantum communication. The objectives of the project include both an educational dimension and research and technological progress. They will include the realisation of a quantum optical laboratory available to students who will be attending an educational course
in quantum physics. The access to the LightNet network will make it possible to perform quantum communication experiments both on dedicated optical fibres and fibres already in use.
CNR quantum communication group
The quantum communication group of the CNR of Florence is based at the National Institute of Optics Arcetri. Its main activities include the realisation of state-of-the-art quantum cryptography systems that use the best and most innovative technologies with the aim of bringing quantum technology into the realm of communication security. Furthermore, the group develops quantum communication schemes based on the fundamental features of quantum systems such as entanglement, quantum tele-transportation, and light squeezing, that will be used to link tomorrow's quantum computers. The group's activities originate from a solid, 20-year long experience in the field of quantum optics recognised at the international level: from the characterization of light's quantum properties; engineering of light at the single photon level.
On top of that, the CNR quantum communication group is proud of its many collaborations with universities and national research centres such as the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and the recent collaboration with the University of Trieste, that will make it possible to test new quantum communication equipment developed specifically for LightNet and its development in Europe.
The University of Trieste is currently the leading institution within the LightNet cooperation agreement, established in 2006 by the academic and research community of Trieste and GARR — Italy’s national network of education and research. The main goal of the LightNet association is toplan, manage and operate its own local Research and Educational Network infrastructure, implementing the most technically advanced solutions available in the field of fibre optic communications. The network connects to the GARR backbone the institutions involved in such cooperation, linking together various facilities composed by offices, laboratories, libraries, observatories, a synchrotron/free electron laser facility, a science park and many other research plants, supporting multiple applications such as Big Data transfers and analysis, e-learning, multimedia, visual and performing arts, high-energy physics, materials science, radio astronomy, earth observation and supercomputing. The LightNet network is a widespread infrastructure, based on the acquisition of about 245 km of dark fibre and the use of self-operated telecommunication devices. At present, the network covers the whole territory of Trieste and is also directly connected to ARNES with two Cross Border Fibre links with Slovenia. Thanks to a 1.5 million euro contribution from the FVG Regional Government, an expansion of such infrastructure towards a regional extension is under way, together with the co-involvement of new institutions such as the University of Udine. The direct management of the infrastructure has always been a key factor in LightNet and allowed LightNet's institutions to experiment the flexible use of the transmission spectrum, a
programmable photonic and packet layers in a disaggregated network model with an open line system.
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University of Trieste
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National Research Council
Marco Ferrazzoli, Cecilia Migali
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Contacts of the organisation
Angelo Bassi – Scientific responsible “Quantum FVG” Department of Physics, University of Trieste Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Alessandro Zavatta – Leader of the CNR quantum communication group – National Institute of Optics of Florence
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Giorgio Giorgetti – Technical Director of LightNet Area dei Servizi ICT, University of Triese