Securing quantum key distribution systems using fewer states
Quantum key distribution (QKD) allows two remote users to establish a secret key in the presence of an eavesdropper. The users share quantum states prepared in two mutually unbiased bases: one to generate the key while the other monitors the presence of the eavesdropper. Here, we show that a general d-dimension QKD system can be secured by transmitting only a subset of the monitoring states. In particular, we find that there is no loss in the secure key rate when dropping one of the monitoring states. Furthermore, it is possible to use only a single monitoring state if the quantum bit error rates are low enough. We apply our formalism to an experimental d=4 time-phase QKD system, where only one monitoring state is transmitted, and obtain a secret key rate of 17.4±2.8 Mbits/s at a 4 dB channel loss and with a quantum bit error rate of 0.045±0.001 and 0.037±0.001 in time and phase bases, respectively, which is 58.4% of the secret key rate that can be achieved with the full setup. This ratio can be increased, potentially up to 100%, if the error rates in time and phase basis are reduced. Our results demonstrate that it is possible to substantially simplify the design of high-dimensional QKD systems, including those that use the spatial or temporal degrees of freedom of the photon, and still outperform qubit-based (d=2) protocols.
Islam, NT; Lim, CCW; Cahall, C; Kim, J; Gauthier, DJ
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