Quantum key distribution (QKD) takes advantage of fundamental properties of quantum physics to allow two distant parties to share a secret key; however, QKD is hampered by a distance limitation of a few hundred kilometers on Earth. The most immediate solution for global coverage is to use a satellite, which can receive separate QKD transmissions from two or more ground stations and act as a trusted node to link these ground stations. In this article we report on a system capable of performing QKD in the high loss regime expected in an uplink to a satellite using weak coherent pulses and decoy states. Such a scenario profits from the simplicity of its receiver payload, but has so far been considered to be infeasible due to very high transmission losses (40-50 dB). The high loss is overcome by implementing an innovative photon source and advanced timing analysis. Our system handles up to 57 dB photon loss in the infinite key limit, confirming the viability of the satellite uplink scenario. We emphasize that while this system was designed with a satellite uplink in mind, it could just as easily overcome high losses on any free space QKD link.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Physical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics|
|Publication status||Published - 22 Dec 2011|