All-Silicon Quantum Key Distribution Circuits for Monolithic Datacenter Engines

In today’s digital age, cloud services are omnipresent, offering immense benefits to industries and professionals alike. Despite their popularity, grave concerns regarding the security within the underlying datacenters persist. Traditional security measures are grounded on the belief that data within the datacenter perimeter is secure, and only external connections require robust encryption. However, this assumption is failing to account for potential internal threats, an emerging concern considering the fact that 85% of total traffic is internal to the datacenter.

In light of this, a paradigm shift towards a zero-trust model – where no datacenter resource is inherently trusted – is necessary. Therefore, to secure the intra data center communication links,  Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) the most secure cryptographic key exchange method should be employed. The challenge lies in fitting QKD into a much smaller scale to allow seamless integration with processors and storage, all while maintaining massive data transfer rates.

Here’s where QISS-ME enters the stage with a revolutionary approach to achieving system-in-package integration of QKD directly into datacenter switches. This involves creating an extremely compact (sub-mm2), integrated QKD transmitter, capitalizing on the mature silicon photonic integration platform. The result is a QKD implementation that is not only cost-effective but virtually impossible to intercept. Added to this, the QKD receiver will be streamlined by integrating polarization drift compensation with quantum state preparation.

QISS-ME envision to demonstrate the effectiveness of these all-silicon chiplet QKD components across various use-cases. These range from intra-datacenter transmission to high-performance computing datacenter interconnects over field-installed fiber. The participation of Nvidia/Mellanox Technologies and Novarion in the QISS-ME consortium will ensure that the project’s scientific objectives align with industry practices.

In conclusion, while the adoption of cloud services is skyrocketing, the pressing need to address security in datacenters is becoming increasingly critical. By integrating QKD at the core of datacenter operations, QISS-ME is pioneering a significant step towards achieving a more secure digital landscape.



  • Coordinator:  Mariana Ramos (AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, GmbH,  AT)
  • Rudolf Herold (Novarion Systems GmbH, AT)
  • Lars Zimmermann (IHP GmbH – Leibniz-Institut für innovative Mikroelektronik, DE)
  • Mentovich Elad (Nvidia / Mellanox Technologies, IL)

Call year

Call 2023

Call topic

Applied Quantum Science

Area of research

Quantum communication

Start date

March 2024


36 months

Funding support

€ 1 078 604

Project status

In Progress