Big Steps forward for Quantum Key Distribution Encryption

Quantum key distribution (QKD), as a secure communication method is the process of distributing keys during a transmission with an implementation of cryptographic protocol involving components of quantum mechanics.

It uses lasers to transmit multiple bits at once, which can be used to connect and secure quantum computers, enabling two parties to produce a shared random secret key known only to them, used to encrypt and decrypt messages.

While the quantum key distribution encryption system relies on the quantum mechanics architecture, which in contrast to traditional public key cryptography, cannot provide any mathematical proof as to the actual complexity of reversing its one-way functions.

And the QKD systems transmit data “between tens to hundreds of kilobytes per second,” a rate not sufficient for most uses, for both chat and telephony purposes.



Now, group of researchers at Duke University, OSU and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have solved what's perhaps the biggest problems of quantum key distribution.

The researchers where able to inject more information into each photon transmitted by adjusting the release time and the phase, thereby encoding two bits instead of just one. Effectively, making it easy to transmit keys quickly and securely, but most importantly, faster over fiber optic cables.

Daniel Gauthier, a professor of physics at The Ohio State University, said that we are now likely to have a functioning quantum computer that might be able to start breaking the existing cryptographic codes in the near future. And that we really need to be thinking hard of the different techniques that we could use to secure the internet.

Apart from the single-photon detectors, every other components involved in the breakthrough research already existed in the telecommunications industry, even as the system utilizes off-the-shelf parts, which barring the detectors, nothing else is unavailable with telecommunications providers.
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