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Testing the photon-number statistics of a quantum key distribution light source

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Publication details

JournalOptics Express
DateAccepted/In press - 19 Jul 2018
DatePublished (current) - 21 Aug 2018
Issue number18
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)22733-22749
Original languageEnglish


A commonly held tenet is that lasers well above threshold emit photons in a coherent state, which follow Poissonian statistics when measured in photon number. This feature is often exploited to build quantum-based random number generators or to derive the secure key rate of quantum key distribution systems. Hence the photon number distribution of the light source can directly impact the randomness and the security distilled from such devices. Here, we propose a method based on measuring correlation functions to experimentally characterize a light source’s photon statistics and use it in the estimation of a quantum key distribution system’s key rate. This promises to be a useful tool for the certification of quantum-related technologies.

Bibliographical note

© 2018 Optical Society of America

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