Fast optical source for quantum key distribution based on semiconductor optical amplifiers

Author(s): M. Jofre, M. W. Mitchell, J. P. Torres, T. Jennewein, J. Perdigues, E. Bernabeu, L. M. Sanchez-Brea, F. J. Torcal-Milla, F. Garcia, J. A. Carrasco, J. L. S. Juan, D. Lopez, L. Penate, R. Ursin, J. Capmany, W. Amaya, G. Anzolin, A. Gardelein, V. Pruneri

Journal: Optics Express

Volume: 19

Page(s): 3825-3834

Year: 2011

DOI Number: 10.1364/OE.19.003825

Link: Link to publication


A novel integrated optical source capable of emitting faint pulses with different polarization states and with different intensity levels at 100 MHz has been developed. The source relies on a single laser diode followed by four semiconductor optical amplifiers and thin film polarizers, connected through a fiber network. The use of a single laser ensures high level of indistinguishability in time and spectrum of the pulses for the four different polarizations and three different levels of intensity. The applicability of the source is demonstrated in the lab through a free space quantum key distribution experiment which makes use of the decoy state BB84 protocol. We achieved a lower bound secure key rate of the order of 3.64 Mbps and a quantum bit error ratio as low as 1.14×10−2 while the lower bound secure key rate became 187 bps for an equivalent attenuation of 35 dB. To our knowledge, this is the fastest polarization encoded QKD system which has been reported so far. The performance, reduced size, low power consumption and the fact that the components used can be space qualified make the source particularly suitable for secure satellite communication.


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