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April 13, 2020

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Terahertz Quantum Cryptography

C. Ottaviani et al., “Terahertz Quantum Cryptography,” in IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications, vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 483-495, March 2020. DOI: 10.1109/JSAC.2020.2968973

A well-known empirical rule for the demand of wireless communication systems is that of Edholm’s law of bandwidth. It states that the demand for bandwidth in wireless short-range communications doubles every 18 months. With the growing demand for bandwidth and the decreasing cell size of wireless systems, terahertz (THz) communication systems are expected to become increasingly important in modern day applications. With this expectation comes the need for protecting users’ privacy and security in the best way possible. With that in mind, we show that quantum key distribution can operate in the THz regime and we derive the relevant secret key rates against realistic collective attacks. In the extended THz range (from 0.1 to 50 THz), we find that below 1 THz, the main detrimental factor is thermal noise, while at higher frequencies it is atmospheric absorption. Our results show that high-rate THz quantum cryptography is possible over distances varying from a few meters using direct reconciliation, to about 220m via reverse reconciliation. We also give a specific example of the physical hardware and architecture that could be used to realize our THz quantum key distribution scheme.