The technologies underlying all aspects of modern networks are undergoing rapid and fundamental changes. Disruptive innovation and exponential growth in network scale and complexity will require new approaches to network design, deployment, and operation. Examples of disruptive innovation include network virtualization, information-centric networks, and quantum networks. Advances in metrology will be necessary to understand, predict and control the behavior of these networks to reach a point of maturity suitable for robust, resilient, and trustworthy adoption in enterprise systems, data centers, and next-generation internet platforms.
CTL develops and applies the metrology foundations (e.g., network telemetry, complex systems analysis) and innovative techniques (e.g., artificial intelligence, formal methods) to improve the quality and timeliness of their standards and accelerate innovation by industry and increase confidence among adopters to ensure the United States continues to lead in the fast-paced, global network technologies sector.
Emerging Network Technologies Program
The Emerging Network Technologies program develops measurement science, test, and measurement techniques, and best practices to enable new disruptive network technologies, including high-performance networking, 5G/6G core networks, optical and quantum networking, cloud computing, information-centric networks, end-to-end service management, edge intelligence, and applications such as teleoperation of automated vehicles. Read more.
- Information-Centric Networks (ICN) – ICN is a new networking paradigm that routes data based on names, rather than endpoint addresses, of data. It brings important benefits over conventional IP networking, including built-in security, in-network caching, and native support for multicast. This program develops ICN technologies (including Named-Data Network routers that are as essential to ICN as IP routers to IP networks) and ICN applications (including ICN-based secure onboarding of IoT devices and distributed caching of contents and software). We also advance global research and accelerate industry adoption by leading the NDN Consortium, an industry-academia-industry research consortium on developing ICN technologies and applications. Read More.
- 5G/6G Core Networks – This program advances the technology foundation, measurement science, and standards that will be required to enable intelligent, resilient, and automated 6G systems and applications, focusing on core networks and end-to-end (E2E) networking services. Our innovation currently covers network architecture concepts, key enabling technologies (including E2E service assurance, edge AI, AI as a Service, network automation, and automated network resilience), industry applications (including industrial control systems and autonomous vehicles), and measurement methods to address unique challenges in 5G/6G systems (e.g., performance of AI/ML-based network functions, interservice interferences). We are developing an opensource 5G/6G core network testbed that can support applications across government agencies and facilitate global research collaboration. We work with industry to explore how 5G and 6G can accelerate industry transformations.
- Quantum Optical Networking – This program develops new measurement techniques, tests and performance procedures, standards, and best practices to enable industry and government to gain confidence in this new disruptive network technology: quantum optical network technology. Harnessing quantum networking technologies will power our economic competitiveness and provide better communication security. The program is organized around two research/focus areas :
- Quantum Network Metrology – demonstrating remote microwave entanglement of superconducting quantum processor nodes with microwave-optical transducer devices; defining operating thresholds for quantum devices, channels, and protocols that preserve quantum information; and developing precision timing and positioning for quantum network operation. These programs leverage world’s-best transducers from CU-JILA collaborators, pioneering work with optical frequency combs, and theoretical foundations in quantum information theory. Read More.
- Quantum Optical Network Architecture and Protocols – This research area will address the core problem of entanglement distribution and stability by developing efficient and resilient protocols stacks to identify, distribute, manage, and manipulate entangled photons and propose solutions that overcome environment-induced optical and quantum impairments. The main focus is quantum networking protocols design and their performance evaluation and pre-standardization validation. It will also undertake collaborations with NIST partners in CTL, ITL, and PML to design, program, and carry out experiments to collect network metrics for control plane performance evaluation. The technical areas of research include:
- Architecture research for Quantum Optical Networks and integration with classical networks
- Management (Label, identify, track) and Control Plane (Signal & Route optical paths) Software Stacks
- Performance monitoring for end-to-end Quality of Entanglement estimation and End-2-End entanglement traffic engineering capabilities
- Design of entanglement distribution protocols
- Control plane time distribution for data plane stability
- Concepts validation in testbeds: NIST Platform for Quantum Network Innovation(PQNI) in the NIST Gaithersburg campus, and the regional Washington-DC area testbed (DC-QNet).
- Modeling and Simulation of Quantum Optical Networks
Trustworthy Networks Research Program
The Trustworthy Networks Research program works with industry partners to advance the design, standardization, and commercialization of technologies necessary to increase the security, resilience, and performance of core network technologies. This includes resolving systemic vulnerabilities in existing and emerging critical network infrastructures and advancing the development of potentially disruptive technologies to improve the trustworthiness of future networks. Our contributions follow the full cycle of problem identification, standardization of solutions, development of reference implementations and test tools, publication of deployment guidance, and demonstration and documentation of recommended practices with the resulting commercial products and services. Often our work involves innovating and applying the measurement science necessary to improve the industry’s trust and confidence in the design, commercialization, and deployment of new network resilience technologies. Read more.
- Robust Inter-Domain Routing - works with industry to design, standardize and foster commercialization of technologies to improve the security and resilience of Internet routing protocols. Current focus: expanding the adoption of BGP security technologies, designs for solving catastrophic failures form route-leaks. Read more.
- Trustworthy Intelligent Networks - works with industry and academia to improve the trustworthiness and applicability of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to future networks and distributed systems. Our research focuses on applications of AI/ML to address security and robustness issues today's networks and developing means to test and measure the robustness of AI/ML techniques necessary for future autonomic networks. Read more.
- Software Defined and Virtualized Networks - works to develop test and measurement techniques to advance the state of the art in network virtualization, network service function chaining, software-defined networks, technologies, and techniques to address robustness and security of virtualized network services. The current focus of this effort is on the development of reference architecture and evaluation techniques for emerging software-defined Zero Trust Networks. Read more.
- Trustworthy Network of Things - works with industry to design, standardize, test, and foster the adoption of network-centric approaches to protect IoT devices from the Internet and to protect the Internet from IoT devices. Our current efforts focus on the research and development of manufacturer usage description (MUD) and secure device onboarding technologies. Read more.
- High Assurance Domains - works with the IETF, Messaging Malware Mobile and Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG), Department of Defense and the Federal CIO Council to research and develop new technologies to address key trust and security issues in enterprise networks. Recent topics include DNS security, DNS-based trust infrastructure, and trustworthy email infrastructure. Read more.
- USGv6 Program - works with other USG agencies and industry to develop and maintain the standards, test program, deployment guidance and test and measurement tools necessary to provide the technical basis for wide-scale adoption of IPv6 in the USG. Read more.