Air Force

Hyper-entanglement photon server

Secure free space laser communications system based on the distribution of secret key material for network access authentication and replenishment of seed keys for stream ciphers that encrypt large sensitive data files

Communications Photonics Software & Information Technology

As data and communication security becomes more of a concern, the potential for quantum approaches gains more interest. The use of quantum entanglement as a component (production of a key) in data communications has been previously proposed as a means of detecting eavesdropping. Many approaches to Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) have been proposed.

Air Force scientists have built upon entanglement based processes for QKD with a hyper-entangled photon server. This approach is distinguished from existing secret key distribution systems utilizing quantum phenomena as the typical systems utilize rotationally invariant quantum entangled states while this new approach utilizes non-rotationally invariant states. These non-rotationally invariant states are realized by use of Lyot filters acting on non-degenerate frequencies produced by a four-wave mixing process in standard optical fibers pumped by bright source lasers.

The Air Force improvement entails a beam splitter and a Lyot filter stack to ensure an initially entangled input state which evolves into a hyper-entangled state. This allows quantum key distribution to commence, wherein authorized users choose from two, 2-D bases at the outset, using half of the transmission events for secret sharing and the other half for channel diagnostics.

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