Optical Quantum Technologies: The New Art of Seeing and Communicating

Optical Quantum Technologies at Fraunhofer IOF

The Fraunhofer IOF is a pioneer in the field of applied research for optical quantum technologies. It offers innovative solutions for applications in science and industry wherever quantum-technological systems have the potential to enable revolutionary applications. These can be, for example, tap-proof quantum communication, low-noise quantum imaging or advanced ion traps for quantum computers. The Fraunhofer IOF is able to integrate, miniaturize and optimize systems for this purpose. Our competences cover the entire quantum photonic process chain from modeling to system production - from basic physics to ready-to-use prototypes.

Depending on the area of ​​application, we offer our customers individually flexible solutions. In the field of quantum communication, this ranges from space-capable high-performance sources for entangled photons, to complete photonic system solutions based on adaptive optics, to lightweight telescopes for space and ground systems.

Assembly of an entangled photon source for use in Earth orbit.

Assembly of an entangled photon source for use in Earth orbit.

As the coordinator of the Fraunhofer-Leitprojekt QUILT, the Fraunhofer IOF also has outstanding expertise in quantum imaging. We develop high-power sources for photon pairs with the widest possible wavelength spread and wavelengths from the infrared to the ultraviolet range. Our system solutions open up new application fields in low-light imaging as well as in previously untapped wavelength ranges and expand the portfolio of microscopic and telescopic imaging methods.


Our portfolio of quantum photonics includes the following application areas:

  • Measurable tap-proof optical communication
  • Microscopy in undeveloped wavelength ranges
  • Optical imaging with minimal radiation dosage
  • Images and spectral analysis of scattering media, such as tissue, smoke or complex mixtures
  • Scaling of quantum computers

Quantum Imaging based on entangled photon pairs
© Fraunhofer IOF

Quantum Imaging based on entangled photon pairs

Entangled photon source for satellite-based quantum communication

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering in Jena have developed a stable, space-suitable source for entangled photons. Such connected or "entangled" photons should in future be used in secure encryption technologies. The source is based on a hybrid design in which a non-linear, periodically poled crystal (ppKTP) from two sides in the arrangement of a Sagnac interferometer with a power of max. 8 mW at 405 nm is pumped. The resulting excited Spontaneous Down Conversion (SPDC) in the crystal generates polarization-entangled photons in the transmitter and receiver channel at a rate of up to 300,000 pairs per second with a visibility of these photon pairs (visibility) in the range 96-99 %.

The operating principle of the entangled photon source