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Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security

: Practical Quantum Cryptography: A Comprehensive Analysis

Gerald Gilbert - Mitre Corporation

Mar 28, 2001

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Abstract

Quantum Information Processing has figured prominently in the popular press recently owing to the potential for solving computational and communications problems that are difficult or impossible to solve through classical means. MITRE has embarked on a program of research in this exciting new field with emphasis on the important application known as quantum cryptography. Quantum cryptography is a technique whereby the basic laws of quantum mechanics are invoked in setting up secure cryptographic systems that are unconditionally secure and hence unbreakable, even in principle. MITRE has achieved both theoretical and experimental results in this field over the past year. In this presentation the basic elements of the subject are introduced and the results of the research carried out at MITRE under the auspices of the MITRE Technology Program are described, including an analysis of the requirements and prospects for high-speed free-space and fiber-optic quantum cryptography implemented via ground-ground, ground-satellite, aircraft-satellite and satellite-satellite links. Our research includes a detailed, explicit analysis of all systems losses due to errors and noises, including turbulent and static atmospheric propagation losses, optics package losses, intrinsic channel losses, etc. We obtain predictions for maximal rates that can be achieved with practical system designs under realistic environmental conditions, taking into account our results for total system losses and loads We propose a specific quantum cryptography system design that includes the use of a novel method of high-speed photon detection that may be able to achieve very high throughput rates for actual implementations in realistic environments

About the Speaker

Dr. Gilbert is Director of the MITRE Quantum Information Science Group and Principal Investigator of the MITRE Quantum Information Processing Project. Dr. Gilbert received his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics under the supervision of Nobel Laureate Professor Steven Weinberg at the University of Texas at Austin in 1986. He subsequently held positions as Weingart Prize Research Fellow in Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology under Professor John Schwarz and as University Research Fellow at Cambridge University under Professor Stephen Hawking, after which he held a faculty position at the University of Maryland at College Park. Dr. Gilbert joined the MITRE Corporation in 1996.


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