Background

Scientists and engineers around the world are currently working on building the next step in secure network communications, and they are doing it using quantum technology to create super-secure connections.

The current popular method is using cryogenic devices, which are devices whose operations depend on superconductivity as produced by temperatures near absolute zero, and standard Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), which exploits random sequences of quantum bits (qubits) in order to securely distribute secret keys that are necessary in the encryption and decryption of binary messages.

The uncertain nature of quantum based communications allows for easy detection of eavesdroppers and the negation of information loss, but the simple quantum systems in which the protocols of QKD are based on, however effective, suffer from a low key-rate, making it ill-suited for large-scale metropolitan network adaptation.

Continuous-Variable Quantum Systems

Fortunately, researchers may have found a way to address this problem. They are looking to take advantage of a protocol that uses continuous-variable quantum systems to achieve higher key-rates, while retaining the security or quantum-based communication.

In a study published in Nature Photonics, lead author Dr. Stefano Pirandola of the Department of Computer Science at York explains the nature of this quantum systems puzzle, saying, “If you want to build a metropolitan network based on quantum cryptography you need a high-rate super-fast connection otherwise you can't compete with the classical communication infrastructure. Continuous variable systems offer the best and cheapest technology for reaching high rates over metropolitan distances and they can work at room temperature.”


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