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CSIR contributes to quantum comms development
29 January 2014, News

Scientists from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) contributed to a recent development effort conducted jointly by researchers from South Africa, Canada and Scotland, to improve security and boost information capacity in quantum communication systems, using the twisted nature of photons to access quantum states in five dimensions for secure quantum key distribution (QKD).

Conventionally QKD is implemented with the polarisation states of light, allowing access to only two dimensions and thus limiting the information that can be packed into each photon, as well as the security of the QKD process. In contrast, the spatial modes of photons allow access to many states, increasing the dimensions available for QKD. One such example is the twisted nature of light, its orbital angular momentum.

Following their recent work on encoding higher-dimensional, mutually unbiased bases (MUBs) from orbital angular momentum, the research team, which includes the CSIR’s Prof Andrew Forbes and Dr Angela Dudley, used holograms written to liquid crystal devices (spatial light modulators) to demonstrate an entanglement-based QKD protocol in five dimensions.

MUBs offer security against eavesdropping, while the higher dimensions lead to an increase in information capacity and higher key generation rates per photon. According to the researchers, these results suggest a way forward for faster and more secure quantum communications systems.

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