Quantum cryptography speeds could be slowed by” dead times”

Researchers said today that technological and security issues will stall maximum transmission rates at levels comparable to that of a single broadband connection, such as a cable modem, unless researchers reduce “dead times” in the detectors that receive quantum-encrypted messages

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), technological and security issues will stall maximum transmission rates at levels comparable to that of a single broadband connection, such as a cable modem, unless researchers reduce “dead times” in the detectors that receive quantum-encrypted messages. The JQI is a research partnership that includes NIST and the University of Maryland. 

In a paper entitled: “Detector dead-time effects and paralyzability in high-speed quantum key distribution,” researchers stated that as systems continue to increase in transmission rate, security concerns associated with detector dead times can limit the production rate of sifted bits.  The speed limit would go up, says NIST physicist Joshua Bienfang in a release, if researchers reduce the dead time in single-photon detectors, something that several groups are trying to do.   

Higher speeds also would be useful for wireless cryptography between a ground station and a satellite in low-Earth orbit. Since the two only would be close enough to communicate for a small part of the day, it would be beneficial to send as much information as possible during a short time window, Bienfang stated.  

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