The use of quantum phenomena for achieving absolutely secure communications was suggested in 1984 by Bennett & Brassard at IBM. In the first implementations of this technology, which is known as quantum key distribution (QKD), a random sequence of secret key bits was encoded on single photons and transmitting one bit at a time. While a revolution in security, the generation and detection of single particles of light requires costly, specialised equipment. Photodetectors sensitive to individual photons also are also slow, limiting the bit rate at which the system can operate.
QuintessenceLabs’ breakthrough is to use a continuous variable bright laser beam. Rather than encoding information using a single photon at a time, our technology encodes a truly random secret key directly onto a continuous beam of laser light, emitting billions of photons per second.
Unlike first generation, single-photon technology which requires complex and expensive photo-emitting and photon-detection components, QuintessenceLabs’ technology is able to leverage commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) telecommunications components, allowing:
- robust design adaptable to a range of operating conditions,
- highly scalable systems,
- broadband encoding and dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM),
- true one time pad encryption
- operation at higher bit rates,
- much lower cost,
- use of multiple sourced COTs components,
- wavelengths compatible with conventional fiber optic links and;
- transmission at the telecommunications 1550nm standard.