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The ideal wavelength for daylight free-space quantum key distribution

Abasifard M, Cholsuk C, Pousa RG, Kumar A, Zand A, Riel T, Oi DKL, Vogl T. 

Submitted to arXiv on 3 March 2023

Quantum key distribution (QKD) has matured in recent years from laboratory proof-of-principle demonstrations to commercially available systems. One of the major bottlenecks is the limited communication distance in fiber networks due to the exponential signal damping. To bridge intercontinental distances, low Earth orbit satellites transmitting the quantum signals over the atmosphere can be used. These free-space links, however, can only operate during the night, as the sunlight otherwise saturates the detectors used to measure the quantum states. For applying QKD in a global quantum internet with continuous availability and high data rates, operation during daylight is required. In this work, we model a satellite-to-ground quantum channel for different quantum light sources to identify the optimal wavelength for free-space QKD in ambient conditions. Daylight quantum communication is possible within the Fraunhofer lines or in the near-infrared spectrum, where the intrinsic background from the sun is comparably low. The highest secret key rate is achievable at the Ca II Fraunhofer line. We also propose a true single photon source based on a color center in hexagonal boron nitride coupled to a microresonator that can implement such a scheme. Our results can also be applied in roof-to-roof scenarios and are therefore relevant for near-future quantum networks.

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