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Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) Technology

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : QKD

Mains level : Quantum Mechanics and its development in India

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully demonstrated communication between its two labs using Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) technology.

Q. What is Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) Technology? Discuss how it enables secure communication networks. (150W)

What is QKD Technology?

  • Quantum key distribution (QKD) is a secure communication method which implements a cryptographic protocol involving components of quantum mechanics.
  • It enables two parties to produce a shared random secret key known only to them, which can then be used to encrypt and decrypt messages.
  • It gives the ability of the two communicating users to detect the presence of any third party trying to gain knowledge of the key.
  • This is a result of a fundamental aspect of quantum mechanics: the process of measuring a quantum system, in general, disturbs the system.
  • By using quantum superposition or quantum entanglement and transmitting information in quantum states, a communication system can be implemented that detects data leak.

How does it work?

  • In the QKD, encryption keys are sent as qubits in a fibre optic cable. Time-bin encoding is used to encode qubit on a photon.
  • Quantum computing uses qubits as basic resources, similar to how bits are used as basic resources in classical computing.
  • The QKD is designed in a way that if an illegitimate entity tries to read the transmission, it will disturb the qubits – which are encoded on photons.
  • This will generate transmission errors, leading to legitimate end-users being immediately informed.

Advantages of using QKD

  • It allows the detection of data leak or hacking because it can detect any such attempt.
  • It also allows the process of setting the error level between the intercepted data in dependence.
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