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  • Alfonso Tello Castillo, Elizabeth Eso, and Ross Donaldson

In-lab demonstration of coherent one-wayprotocol over free space with turbulencesimulation

Alfonso Tello Castillo, Elizabeth Eso, and Ross Donaldson

Scottish Universities Physics Alliance, Institute of Photonics & Quantum Sciences, School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Heriot-Watt University, David Brewster Building, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK


Over the last decade, free-space quantum key distribution (QKD), a secure key

sharing protocol, has risen in popularity due the adaptable nature of free-space networking and the near-term potential to share quantum-secure encryption keys over a global scale. While the literature has primarily focused on polarization based-protocols for free-space transmission, there are benefits to implementing other protocols, particularly when operating at fast clock-rates, such as in the GHz. In this paper, we experimentally demonstrate a time-bin QKD system, implementing the coherent one-way (COW) at 1 GHz clock frequency, utilizing a free-space channel and receiver. We demonstrate the receiver’s robustness to atmospheric turbulence, maintaining an operational visibility of 92%, by utilizing a lab-based turbulence simulator. With a fixed channel loss of 16 dB, discounting turbulence, we obtain secret key rate (SKR) of 6.4 kbps, 3.4 kbps, and 270 bps for three increasing levels of turbulence. Our results highlight that turbulence must be better accounted for in free-space QKD modelling due to the additional induced loss.



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