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Esprit Project 28139 - EQCSPOT
Single Photon Optical Technologies

Keywords: Quantum cryptography (QC), Quantum Computing, photonics


Quantum cryptography (QC) provides absolute security key distribution based on single photon pulses encoded using either polarisation or interferometric methods. It relies on the laws of physics, at heart Heisenbergs uncertainty principle, to guarantee the secure distribution of random key strings using an all optical connection or network. To date proof of principles experiments have been carried out over optical links extending up to 50km under laboratory conditions.

The primary objective of this collaboration is to bring quantum cryptography to the point of industrial application. Two secondary objectives are a) to improve single photon technologies with a view to wider applications in metrology, semiconductor characterisation, biosensing etc. and b) to assess the practicality of future technologies for general quantum processors. The primary results will be in the tangible improvements in key distribution.

Key results from the collaboration will be:

The overall programme will be co-ordinated from DERA and the work will be divided into eight workparts with each workpart co-ordinated by one organisation. Three major workparts are dedicated to the development of the three main systems: NIR fibre, 13-1.55µm fibre and free space key exchange. The other five are dedicated to networks, components and subsystems, software development, spin-off technologies and dissemination of results.

The expansion of electronic commerce is dramatic and the requirement for secure password, identity and /or digital signature verification inevitably follows. Here we are developing quantum cryptography key exchange systems that are compatible with existing and future infrastructures. With suitable engineering our systems will become comparable in price and convenience to classical key exchange routes. The added security and future proofing of quantum cryptography will then mean that these systems will capture a large share of the world key exchange market.

Exploitation of the results will be encouraged by widely reporting the research results via papers, patents and a final open workshop. Furthermore several European telecom and component manufacturers are involved to advise on commercialisation of the emerging technologies.

Contact Point
Dr John Rarity
Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA)
Iset Department
St. Andrews Rd.
UK - Malvern WR14 3PS
e-mail: (E-mail removed)

Start date: 1 November 98
Duration: 36 months

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