Short-range secure quantum communication

Photon signal protocols for propagation through environmental scattering media such as smoke, fog, and rain


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Scientists at the Army Research Laboratory have developed a non-line-of-sight (NLOS) secure communication method using entangled photon pairs. The patented technology is available via license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.

ARL’s non-line-of-sight (NLOS) quantum method communicates through air, fog, smoke, rain, and underwater. (Image Credit: pixel2013 on Pixabay)

In regions lacking infrastructure, or when points of communication are separated by obstructions, traditional methods of communication such as cellular networks, direct radio frequency, or optical signaling, are often inadequate or not secure. These methods are also prone to interference by environmental scatter. Thus, there is an ongoing need for a short-range, secure communication system that is not dependent on line-of-sight and can tolerate environmental scattering.

ARL scientists have developed a new method addressing these issues by utilizing entangled photon pairs to securely communicate information through scattering media. Photonic signals are tagged with a pre-selected modification, such as a polarization signature, to carry data across an obstructed path between sender and receiver. Communication authentication through polarization variation allows for entangled photon quantum communication protocols to propagate through environmental scattering media such as air, smoke, fog, rain, and water.

The modulated secure signal is transmitted and scattered by the media and simultaneously communicated to one or more recipients exposed to scattered signal portions. The receivers reconstruct the quantum encoded message by demodulating the photonic signals at synchronized time intervals.

This process can also apply to signal transmission through a solid substance such as ice, soil, and rock using a propagation wavelength that is scattered by the solid media, yet transmissive through the volume of solid to be traversed. Communication through a solid typically involves infrared and longer wavelengths of more than 800 nanometers.

This U.S. Patent 7,805,079 (process), is related to U.S. Patent 7,945,168 (system).

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