Quantum communication research success on Rockabill

For the first time, researchers successfully demonstrate over euNetworks’ fibre infrastructure that quantum communication is possible between the United Kingdom and Ireland.

A series of experiments were conducted on our Rockabill subsea network in July 2023, pushing the boundaries of quantum communication and paving the way for the future security of private data. The successful integration of quantum technology over commercial-grade optical fibre infrastructure at this distance is an exciting step forward for the quantum internet. 

Researchers from The University of York in collaboration with the Quantum Communications Hub and euNetworks successfully demonstrated for the first time that quantum communication is possible over the long geographical distance that separates England from Ireland. The team, led by Professor Marco Lucamarini from the University of York, ran a series of experiments using Rockabill, selected for its new and unique ultra-low loss fibre delivering low latency and remarkably low average attenuation. 

This network is one of the newest commercial optical fibre systems in operation and connects Ireland to England in the United Kingdom, running 224 kilometres between Portrane and Southport cable landing stations. Until now, no quantum link has ever been established between the two countries, nor on a span stretching this length on a subsea fibre optic cable. 

press releaseresearch paper

Key facts

  • Transporting single & entangled photons between the two Rockabill landing stations.
  • Measurement of the optical phase exploited in twin-field & continuous-variable Quantum Key Distribution (QKD).
  • Successfully demonstrated that unrepeated quantum communication is possible over a subsea distance of 224 km.
  • The first successful quantum link between Ireland & the UK.

The research further develops the use of QKD, the next frontier of data encryption technology. This technology has the potential to deliver advanced levels of network security. It has a strong use case in industries and organisations looking for highly secure data encryption methods, protection and transfer.

More experiments will need to be carried out using the same cable to pave the way for integrating quantum technologies into standard communications for industries sending private data between the UK and Ireland, and for further advances in the quantum internet. 

This is a truly exciting step forward in realising the full potential of quantum communications and for the future of securing private data in an environment that is shaping the so-called ‘quantum internet’. This project also advances the real-world integration of quantum communication technology into existing global telecommunications and network infrastructure – taking it out of the lab into a ‘real-world’ scenario.

Professor Marco Lucamarini

University of York