Simplified intensity- and phase-modulated transmitter for modulator-free decoy-state quantum key distribution

Y. S. Lo, R. I. Woodward, N. Walk, M. Lucamarini, I. De Marco, T. K. Paraïso, M. Pittaluga, T. Roger, M. Sanzaro, Z. L. Yuan, A. J. Shields

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Quantum key distribution (QKD) allows secret key exchange between two users with unconditional security. For QKD to be widely deployed, low cost and compactness are crucial requirements alongside high performance. Currently, the majority of QKD systems demonstrated rely on bulk intensity and phase modulators to generate optical pulses with precisely defined amplitude and relative phase difference i.e., to encode information as signal states and decoy states. However, these modulators are expensive and bulky, thereby limiting the compactness of QKD systems. Here, we present and experimentally demonstrate a novel optical transmitter design to overcome this disadvantage by generating intensity- and phase-tunable pulses at GHz clock speeds. Our design removes the need for bulk modulators by employing directly modulated lasers in combination with optical injection locking and coherent interference. This scheme is, therefore, well suited to miniaturization and photonic integration, and we implement a proof-of-principle QKD demonstration to highlight potential applications.
Original languageEnglish
Article number036111
Number of pages10
JournalAPL Photonics
Early online date20 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2023

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© 2023 Author(s).


  • quant-ph

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