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Polygon reveals AggLayer with ZK approach to unifying modular blockchains

Polygon Labs is set to launch a new “AggLayer” next month, which utilizes zero-knowledge proofs in its bid to synthesize modular, monolithic blockchains.

The new development is part of Polygon’s strategy to build a network “web” that imparts a seamless single-chain experience. The team sees zero-knowledge proofs as a key element in shaping the future of blockchain architecture.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Polygon Labs revealed that their new project aims to blend the benefits of both integrated, or monolithic, and modular architectures using ZK technology.

“Monolithic” blockchains, such as Ethereum, integrate transaction execution, security and data storage vertically. Meanwhile, developers increasingly favor “modular” designs, allowing networks to combine various components and providers for different functions.

Polygon Labs’ AggLayer project seeks to integrate these approaches seamlessly. According to the blog post, developers can connect any layer-1 or layer-2 chain to the AggLayer, creating a Web3 network with a single-chain feel, unified liquidity and nearly limitless scalability.

The AggLayer addresses the limitations of modular and monolithic blockchains. Users on the AggLayer can purchase NFTs on a different chain without bridging funds, thanks to ZK proofs. This allows for seamless participation in activities on various chains without sending assets across.

“Aggregation synthesizes the sovereignty and scale of modular architectures with the unified liquidity and user experience of a monolithic system, creating something innovative,” the team behind AggLayer said.

Part of Polygon 2.0 roadmap

AggLayer is part of the Polygon 2.0 architecture roadmap, Polygon’s scaling solution for the Ethereum blockchain that focuses on “unified liquidity” across its ecosystem. The company has talked about the roadmap since its first reveal in June 2023.

The roadmap includes the introduction of a shared bridge and a “coordination layer” connecting all Polygon chains. Zero-knowledge technology, a prominent blockchain trend, will be a key element in this new architecture.

“Unified liquidity is the key to everything in Polygon 2.0,” Brendan Farmer, the co-founder of Polygon, said. “We need to support unlimited scalability, but the entire Polygon 2.0 ecosystem must still feel like using a single chain.”

“The validity of cross-chain transactions is guaranteed by ZK proofs posted to Ethereum, but we want bridging to feel seamless,” he added. “We can’t make users wait for a chain to generate a proof or settle on Ethereum.”

Investors will have the option to re-stake tokens simultaneously on multiple projects. Polygon also plans to empower developers to create “decentralized chains on demand,” aligning with competitors like Arbitrum, Optimism and zkSync’s Matter Labs in simplifying network replication to foster diverse yet compatible blockchain ecosystems.

The tech stack introduces a shared crypto bridge with zero-knowledge proofs to link various Polygon chains, enabling safe and instant cross-chain transactions. The coordination layer will facilitate confirmation of these transactions, providing users with a seamless, unified experience across multiple chains.

Polygon explained the technical workings of their approach as follows. Native Ethereum tokens are deposited into a centralized contract on the Ethereum blockchain. When a user conducts transactions across different Polygon chains, the assets involved are mapped to the tokens initially deposited on Ethereum.

This eliminates the necessity for wrapped tokens and associated user experience challenges. In essence, users can seamlessly interact with various Polygon chains without encountering the complications often associated with wrapped tokens, resulting in a smoother and more user-friendly experience.

Additionally, the proposal emphasizes re-staking, allowing users to repurpose staked crypto to enhance the security of other blockchain applications, aligning with recent industry trends like Eigenlayer.