Towards polarisation-encoded quantum key distribution in optical fibre networks
Quantum key distribution – a process that encodes digital information – often utilises fibre optic technologies for commercial applications. Fibre provides the benefit of a dark channel as well as the convenience of independence of a line-of-sight connection between the sender and receiver. In order to implement quantum key distribution protocols utilising polarisation encoding, the birefringence effects of fibre must be compensated for. Birefringence is caused by manufacturing impurities in the fibre or a change in environmental conditions and results in a rotation of the state of polarisation of light as it is propagated through the fibre. With dynamic environmental conditions, the birefringence effects should be monitored with a test signal at regular time intervals so that the polarisation of each photon can be appropriately compensated to its original state. Orthogonal states are compensated simultaneously, but most protocols, such as BB84 and B92, require non-orthogonal basis sets. Instead of using a compensator for each basis, the presented scheme fixes the polarisation controller onto the plane on the Poincaré that passes through both bases, compensating both non-orthogonal bases simultaneously.
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