What is Polygon zkEVM? An In-Depth Overview

Last Updated:
May 19, 2023
What is Polygon zkEVM - Feature Image

Blockchain technology has continued to evolve since its inception, with developers and engineers constantly seeking ways to enhance its functionality and overcome inherent limitations. One such innovation is the Polygon zkEVM. Learn more.

Blockchain technology has continued to evolve since its inception, with developers and engineers constantly seeking ways to enhance its functionality and overcome inherent limitations. One such innovation is the Polygon zkEVM, a combination of powerful technologies—Zero Knowledge cryptography and Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) —aimed at addressing scalability and transaction costs, among other challenges in the blockchain space.

Understanding the Components

Zero Knowledge

Zero Knowledge is a cryptographic protocol that enhances security and privacy in transactions. The intriguing concept is that it allows the validation of a statement without revealing the information used to reach the solution. It has been utilized in the blockchain field for various applications including enhancing privacy in transactions, protecting credentials, and improving authentication. Additionally, off-chain scalability solutions use Zero Knowledge to submit proof of transaction validity to Layer 1, improving speed and security.

Ethereum Virtual Machine

The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) is a vital system employed by the Ethereum network, enabling the operation of smart contracts and decentralized applications (dApps) on the blockchain. In its early stages, blockchain technology was somewhat limited, primarily offering the basic function of storing transactions in a decentralized manner. However, with the advent of the EVM, code made on Solidity can be compiled into bytecode, which then generates a state change, extending the functionality of the blockchain.


Rollups are a cutting-edge solution designed to speed up transactions in the blockchain field. They outsource computation from the network to an off-chain environment, and once the computation is complete, the transaction data is sent back to Layer 1. ZK-Rollups are a specific type of rollup that utilizes Zero Knowledge cryptography to enhance this off-chain process. With ZK-Rollups, only the validity proof needs to go to Ethereum instead of all the transaction data, which decreases costs and time to process transactions.

Exploring Polygon zkEVM

Polygon zkEVM is an open-source ZK-Rollup that provides EVM opcode compatibility for a seamless user experience while ensuring the security of Ethereum. It merges the speed and security benefits of Zero Knowledge cryptography with the standardization of coding and software development offered by the Ethereum Virtual Machine. The zkEVM provides reliable verification of smart contract transactions on Layer 2 (L2) on Layer 1 (L1) without nodes having to re-execute the operations.

The unique value propositions of Polygon zkEVM include massive scalability improvement while maintaining compatibility with the Ethereum ecosystem. Thanks to the cryptographic breakthroughs pioneered by Polygon Zero and Miden, full EVM compatibility can be achieved while offering better performance (higher throughput, lower latency, and lower cost) than alternative Layer 1 solutions, optimistic rollups, and other ZK-Rollups.

Comparing Polygon zkEVM with Other Solutions

Compatibility with the Ethereum developer ecosystem is a key selling point for Polygon zkEVM. Preserving this compatibility is not just about scaling transactions per second on Ethereum, but also building on the foundation of a vibrant community and ecosystem. The Polygon zkEVM Prover can validate 500K gas units on a single CPU server (64 cores) in about 5 minutes, showcasing its impressive performance.

In terms of security, ZK proofs ensure that every transaction on the zkEVM is valid, making it impossible for operators of the L2 to steal funds from users. This security feature, along with scalability, offers a significant advantage for the zkEVM compared to alternative Layer 1 solutions and ensures that the zkEVM is closelyaligned with Ethereum, the dominant chain in terms of developer activity, Total Value Locked (TVL), and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) activity.

Use Cases of Polygon zkEVM

Polygon zkEVM's unique features make it a suitable choice for various use cases.

DeFi Applications

Thanks to its high security and censorship-resistant nature, Polygon zkEVM is a good fit for DeFi applications. Unlike Optimistic Roll-ups where users have to wait for up to 7 days for deposits and withdrawals, ZK-Rollups don’t require long periods for deposits and withdrawals, offering better capital efficiency for DApps and users.

NFT, GameFi, and Enterprise Applications

The low gas cost, high Transactions Per Second (TPS), and superior security level, in addition to Ethereum composability, attract blue-chip NFTs, GameFi, and Enterprise applications to build on top of zkEVM.


Users interested in transacting with each other in real-time within a near-instantaneous and low-fee environment will appreciate the value Polygon zkEVM provides. This creates a smoother experience for users making payments or transferring assets across the network.

Real-world Applications

Unfortunately, as of the writing of this article, specific real-world applications utilizing Polygon zkEVM are still under development or are yet to be widely publicized. However, given the clear advantages and use cases outlined above, it's reasonable to anticipate a broad range of applications in the near future.


Polygon zkEVM is an innovative solution that combines the best of Zero Knowledge cryptography and Ethereum Virtual Machine. Its compatibility with the Ethereum ecosystem, impressive performance, and strong security make it a powerful tool for various applications in the blockchain field. 

As the technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see more use cases and real-world applications that leverage the strengths of Polygon zkEVM. This is an exciting time for blockchain technology, and Polygon zkEVM is at the forefront of these advancements, promising a more secure, efficient, and scalable future for blockchain applications.