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Proceedings Paper

Quantum cryptography for secure free-space communications
Author(s): Richard J. Hughes; William T. Buttler; Paul G. Kwiat; Steve K. Lamoreaux; Gabriel G. Luther; George L. Morgan; Jane E. Nordholt; C. Glen Peterson
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Paper Abstract

The secure distribution of the secret random bit sequences known as 'key' material, is an essential precursor to their use for the encryption and decryption of confidential communications. Quantum cryptography is a new technique for secure key distribution with single-photon transmissions: Heisenberg's uncertainty principle ensures that an adversary can neither successfully tap the key transmissions, nor evade detection (eavesdropping raises the key error rate above a threshold value). We have developed experimental quantum cryptography systems based on the transmission of non- orthogonal photon polarization states to generate shared key material over line-of-sight optical links. Key material is built up using the transmission of a single-photon per bit of an initial secret random sequence. A quantum-mechanically random subset of this sequence is identified, becoming the key material after a data reconciliation stage with the sender. We have developed and tested a free-space quantum key distribution (QKD) system over an outdoor optical path of approximately 1 km at Los Alamos National Laboratory under nighttime conditions. Results show that free-space QKD can provide secure real-time key distribution between parties who have a need to communicate secretly. Finally, we examine the feasibility of surface to satellite QKD.

Paper Details

Date Published: 26 April 1999
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 3615, Free-Space Laser Communication Technologies XI, (26 April 1999); doi: 10.1117/12.346170
Show Author Affiliations
Richard J. Hughes, Los Alamos National Lab. (United States)
William T. Buttler, Los Alamos National Lab. (United States)
Paul G. Kwiat, Los Alamos National Lab. (United States)
Steve K. Lamoreaux, Los Alamos National Lab. (United States)
Gabriel G. Luther, Los Alamos National Lab. (United States)
George L. Morgan, Los Alamos National Lab. (United States)
Jane E. Nordholt, Los Alamos National Lab. (United States)
C. Glen Peterson, Los Alamos National Lab. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3615:
Free-Space Laser Communication Technologies XI
G. Stephen Mecherle, Editor(s)

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