Our Quantum Research Projects

The partners of the Center of Excellence Photonics have already successfully acquired a large number of high-profile research projects and initiatives. Some projects or initiatives stand out in particular, e.g. due to the uniqueness of the cooperation, the excellence of the research approach, or their national prominence. At this point, we would like to highlight the QuNET initiative from among the many projects, as it combines these three special features in one research initiative.


Highlight project: QuNET

The laws of quantum physics enable information security to be raised to an unprecedented new level. The technology of quantum key distribution (QKD) enables the exchange of digital information via public channels, while the confidentiality of communication can be guaranteed in a physically measurable way.


The QuNET initiative represents an original contribution to Germany's technological and digital sovereignty in the field of cyber security for public authorities. For successful implementation, the competencies of the leading research organizations are bundled and a shoulder-to-shoulder approach is taken with partners from industry, science and politics. Under the leadership of the four core institutes Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF, Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute HHI, German Aerospace Center Institute for Communication and Navigation (DLR-KN), and Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Light (MPL), QuNET pursues the goal of making QKD usable as a powerful basis for future IT security solutions in relevant and coordinated scenarios.

Overview of our quantum research projects in Jena

Quantum Enabling

Quantum Photonics Lab

In this BMBF-funded project the Fraunhofer IOF complemented its quantum photonic process chains to enable the development of highly robust and integrated quantum sources and other quantum light manipulating core components such as mode converters and entanglement converters. For the studied single photon sources, the work is based on diamond modification and patterning, whereas for the entangled photon pair sources this project implements novel approaches to achieve high pair rates, long coherence times and extreme wavelength spreads. The work is targeting use cases in all four pillars of quantum science, both in academia as well as in the industry, with a corresponding network of associated partners supporting the research activities. More info in german

Quantum Engineering Lab

The Thuringian ministry for economy science and digital society funded “Quantum Engineering Lab” is a broad initiative funding research and development on a dedicated and open optical fiber and free-space link infrastructure for quantum technologies around the Fraunhofer IOF and the Abbe Center of Photonics in Jena and the Fraunhofer Project Hub for Microelectronic and Optical Systems for Biomedicine in Erfurt. Most excitingly, the initiative enables the installation of an optical ground station in Jena for future large-scale quantum communication experiments including satellite links. The application lab provides office-space and lab space for research, testing, validation and assembly of systems, services and components for quantum communication as well as for quantum imaging and corresponding signal and image processing.


qp-tech.edu aims to support the German photonics industry in meeting the challenges of the 2nd quantum revolution in the field of human resources by providing suitable training and continuing education. To this end, the network, represented by the universities of Jena, Erlangen, Paderborn, and Ulm together with the Fraunhofer IOF, will incorporate knowledge transfer on new technologies, applications, and markets in the field of quantum photonics and related technologies at all levels of the innovation chain. Within the network, education and training programs for the scientific-technical as well as the management level of industrial users are developed and offered. The project goals are supported by measures such as systematic needs analysis, development of new, interdisciplinary training modules, analog and digital training of specialists, and exchange programs between companies, the Fraunhofer IOF, and the universities.


QOMPLEX is a BMBF-funded project, which established integrated photonic solutions for the creation of entangled multi-photon states in systems with a large number of optical modes. It also investigates the feasibility for such photon states for applications in multi-party quantum networks and advanced tasks in quantum interferometry.

NanoScope Futur

NanoScopeFutur-2D is a BMBF-funded research group, under the NanoMatFutur programme. It focusses on optical properties of novel two-dimensional materials for applications in health, the environment, and quantum technologies.


A BMBF-funded collaborative research project aiming at a portable source of high-dimensionally-entangled photon. Next to field-ready design the source targets dimensional modularity - additional modules can be added to increase the dimensionality of entanglement depending on user requirements.

Quantum Computing


The consortium of the EU-project AQTION (Advanced quantum computing with trapped ions) targeted to built a compact demonstrator for an ion-based quantum computer. The Fraunhofer IOF developed the optomechanical addressing unit for the multi-trap setup holding the qubits. The unit involves movable microprisms which can be actuated with high precision using piezo-electric elements, thereby transforming static fed-in fibers to a dynamic configuration allowing computation. To prepare the quantum states for specific computational tasks, that is, to operate and control the quantum gates, the addressing unit allows for laser light to be focused on individual ions. The results of a given computational are finally encoded in the final states of the ions, read out by fluorescence detection. The project involves partners from industry and academia, and lays the groundwork for a scalable quantum computer for Europe.


IQuAn - (german: Ionen- Quantenprozessor mit HPC-Anbindung“ , engl. Ion quantum processor with HPC interface)

Trapped ions are promising candidates for quantum processors in future quantum computers. An outstanding property of trapped ions is the long coherence time in the order of seconds, which enables laser-based quantum gates to be switched with high reliability. The highly innovative approach within this project and the composition of the involved partners of the consortium allow to combine optical addressing units for single ions in their respective quantum register with high dynamic reconfigurability of single sub-registers. Among others, ion swapping, ion shuttling, or ion reordering will be used to develop approaches and solutions for a scalable quantum computer processor with high effective qubit connectivity.  

Quantum Communication


InteQuant is a long-term strategic cooperation of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the Austrian Academy of Sciences, driven by the Fraunhofer-Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) in Vienna. It entails cooperation between both institutes on highly advanced integrated devices for Quantum Information Processing. InteQuant’s scientific and technological focus lies in the establishment of integrated high-TRL (focus of the initial ICON funded phase) and guided wave optics as the workhorse for next-generation quantum information processing and communication systems, based on existing concepts and tailored for use in the transnational QUAPITAL network.


The Fraunhofer Attract Group of Fabian Steinlechner focuses on the fundamental science of quantum sources, methods for manipulation and analysis, quantum interference of hyperentangled photons as well as lab-based experiments emulating link-environments. It hence represents a back-bone of the quantum communication group’s fundamental R&D activities, and hereby further enables the development of new quantum optical concepts benefitting from the unique and well-established technological competences and process chains in applied photonics at the Fraunhofer IOF.


QuNET is a joint initiative of the Fraunhofer Society, the German Aerospace Center and the Max Planck Society, funded and supported since 2019 by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The initiative aims to establish the physical-technical foundation for quantum key distribution systems and link technologies targeted for applications in German high-security networks. This entails demonstrators for complete QKD-systems, as well as developments of core components and related technologies as required for hybrid network architectures with a variety of protocols and link configurations. The project involves the establishment of a broad and interdisciplinary alliance, involving actors from the industry (especially the IT-security sector), federal agencies (such as the BSI) as well as relevant academic and application-oriented partners. 


QUICK3 is a joint reasearch project together with the Ferdinand-Braun-Institut in Berlin and the Technische Universität Berlin, alongside national and international partners. The interdisciplinary team develops a space mission to test a quantum light source in space on a CubeSat for future quantum communication scenarios. Satellite-based quantum links are crucial for a quantum-secured internet, as they allow us to bridge long distances where optical fibers cannot be used. Moreover, onboard the satellite is also a quantum interferometer to test extended quantum theories in microgravity.

Quantum Imaging


The Fraunhofer Lighthouse project QUILT – Quantum Methods for Advanced Imaging Solutions – aims to enable the field of quantum imaging and spectroscopy to be moved out of the optics lab into the application side. It covers a very broad spectrum of topics ranging from ghost imaging, numerical modelling over to imaging and spectroscopy with nonlinear interferometers. During QUILT several quantum imaging and spectroscopy demonstrators have been developed and the whole field advanced into an application-oriented direction.


QuantIm4Life, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Science (BMBF) in the framework of the Quantum Futur program, is establishing a junior research group centered on quantum imaging, led by Frank Setzpfandt. The group is investigating Quantum Ghost Imaging, a quantum imaging scheme based on correlated photons. QuantIm4Life is working to develop Quantum Ghost Imaging towards applications while making full use of the possible quantum benefits. A special emphasis is put on applications in the life sciences. 


FastGhost is a European funded project within the Horizon 2020 framework with the objective to enable fast quantum ghost imaging in the mid-infrared (MIR) spectral range. Within the project photon pair sources covering the desired MIR range as well as single-photon detectors for that range are developed. Moreover, SPAD cameras with on-chip correlation electronics allowing for asynchronous coincidence detection are covert. FastGhost brings together the competencies of two companies and three academic partners, two of them are located in Jena, in order to enable the next generation of quantum ghost imaging with new spectral and imaging properties.


Q-MIC (practical quantum imaging in a lens free differential interference contrast microscope)– EU H2020 FET OPEN Grant #801060)

Q-MIC aims at developing a new on-chip differential interference contrast microscope based on an unconventional birefringence lens-free configuration, novel quantum sources, and single-photon detector arrays. Fraunhofer IOF is responsible for the development and integration of a compact source of entangled photon pairs operating at short wavelenghts (532nm) for integration into the Q-MIC Platform.

Quantum Sensing


InQuoSens is supported by the Thuringian State and the European Regional Development Fund (EFRE), and with further funds for the integrated Thuringian research groups E-PhoQuant, FastPhoton, 2Dsens and FOQUOS. InQuoSens joins internationally visible research activities in quantum optics and sensor technology of the Abbe Center of Photonics at the FSU Jena, the Institute for Micro- and Nano­technologies at the Technical University of Ilmenau and the Fraunhofer IOF. By means of strategic investments measures and a joint strategy process at both locations, these fields are synergistically developed. InQuoSens coordinates its scientific development with the innovative needs of the Thuringian metrology and communication industry. For example, InQuoSens is currently working on the question of how quantum technologies can be used in autonomous driving or medical diagnostics.


(Horizon 2020 FET Open research and innovation programm under grant agreement No. 899824)

The SURQUID project investigates quantum sensing solutions for LiDAR applications within the EU’s H2020 Future and Emerging Technologies program FET-OPEN. Within The Project, Fraunhofer IOF is tasked with the development of a portable quantum light source in telecom C-Band for remote sensing applications


QUANTIFISENS is a regional alliance of industry and research to build a 'Quantum Inspired Omnifunctional Fiber Sensor Plat­form' to provide adapted fully integrated sensor solutions for broad applications and to enable long-term developments of quantum technologies for a sustainable innovation leap in fiber sensor technology.