Lindsay Babcock, Katanya Kuntz, Sebastian Slaman, and Ramy Tannous of the Quantum Photonics Lab, led by Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) researcher Thomas Jennewein, designed and constructed a working portable demonstration of Quantum Key Distribution (QKD). The QKD demo used hardware components designed by Excelitas Technologies, an industry partner who provides customized optoelectronics and advanced electronic systems.
QKD enables secure communication between two parties. QKD establishes highly secure keys between distant parties by using single photons to transmit each bit of the key. Since single photons behave according the laws of quantum mechanics they cannot be tapped, copied or directly measured without detection.
The benefit for users of such systems is the peace of mind of knowing that any attack, manipulation or copying of the photons can be immediately detected and overcome. QKD solves the long-standing problem of securely transporting cryptographic keys between distant locations. Even if they were to be transmitted across hostile territory, their integrity could be unambiguously verified upon receipt.