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Experimental open-air quantum key distribution with a single photon source

R. Alléaume, F. Treussart, G. Messin, J.-F. Roch, Y. Dumeige, A. Beveratos, R. Brouri, J.-P. Poizat, and P. Grangier, New Journal of Physics 6, 92 (2004)

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We describe the implementation of a quantum key distribution (QKD) system using a single-photon source, operating at night in open air. The single-photon source at the heart of the functional and reliable set-up relies on the pulsed excitation of a single nitrogen-vacancy colour centre in a diamond nanocrystal. We tested the effect of attenuation on the polarized encoded photons for inferring the longer distance performance of our system. For strong attenuation, the use of pure single-photon states gives measurable advantage over systems relying on weak attenuated laser pulses. The results are in good agreement with theoretical models developed to assess QKD security.

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