Quantum Source Development for Quantum Key Distribution Secure Satellite Optical Communications Networks - ON-230

Preferred Disciplines: Physics, Optics, Electronics (PhD or Post-Doc preferred)
Company: Honeywell Aerospace 
Project Length: 2 years
Desired start date: As soon as possible 
Location: Ottawa, ON
No. of Positions: 1
Preferences: None

About the Company: 

A part of Honeywell Aerospace, the Honeywell Space Greenhouse is an incubator headquartered in Ottawa for new space technologies and products.  We are currently focused on developing optical intersatellite link terminals for the emerging satellite internet constellation market.

Project Description:

There are three projects to develop low-cost technologies to support Secure Satellite Optical Communications Networks, including the determination of the effectiveness of the use of terrestrial parts for use in space environments.  The third of these three projects involves research into the development of a source of quantum entangled photons that can be used to support quantum key distribution (QKD) encrypted communications between a satellite and multiple ground stations. Space-based QKD entails single photons carrying an encryption key between a trusted node (the satellite) and two ground stations. By using weakly-coherent pulses or entangled photons to encode the secure key, a properly designed QKD scheme may enable perfectly secure communication between two parties—even over conventional communication channels.

Research Objectives:

This research project is intended to examine the two critical challenges in space-based QKD schemes:

(1) the availability of space-qualified QKD sources, and

(2) the integration of those sources within a space qualified optical communications system.

The project is expected to result in the production of a space-qualified quantum source capable of delivering provably secure encryption keys via single-photon transfer from a space platform to ground stations.   


A significant aspect of this work will be devoted to designing, producing, and qualifying a thermally stable opto-mechanical design of a quantum source that will operate reliably in a space environment over an extended mission. 

The proposed QKD source for use in this project is a blue laser (the high-energy source), and a pair of nonlinear crystals (performing the photon conversion) as this architecture has been shown to produce tens of millions of photon pairs per second— enough to support reliable generation of secure keys in the environment of space.

Given that the quantity and quality of entangled photons produced in this scheme is highly sensitive to phase (temperature) and alignment errors, a key focus of the research will be determining how to achieve adequately reliable operation will overcoming the challenges created in the dynamic thermal environment of space.   

Expertise and Skills Needed:

Entangled Quantum Source for QKD encryped satellie communications:

  • Understanding of non-linear optics
  • Basic understanding of electronics
  • Capable of finite element thermal analyses

Honeywell Aerospace complies with the requirements of the Controlled Goods Program and, prior to project commencement, will complete a security assessment of any intern selected for this project.

For more info or to apply to this applied research position, please

  1. Check your eligibility and find more information about open projects
  2. Interested students need to get the approval from their supervisor and send their CV along with a link to their supervisor’s university webpage by applying through the webform.