Manipulating photon coherence to enhance the security of distributed phase reference quantum key distribution

26 Feb 2018

Distributed-phase-reference (DPR) systems were introduced as a method of decreasing the complexity of quantum key distribution systems for practical use. However, their information-theoretic security has only been proven when the added requirement of block-wise phase randomisation is met. Realisation of this with a conventional approach would result in a cumbersome transmitter, removing any practical advantage held by DPR systems. Here we solve this problem using a light source that allows the coherence between pulses to be controlled on a pulse-by-pulse basis without the need for additional bulky components. The system is modulator-free, does not require a complex receiver, and features an excellent stability without an active stabilisation mechanism. We achieve megabit per second key rates that are almost three times higher than those obtained with the standard Bennet-Brassard 1984 (BB84) protocol.