In quantum cryptography, a sender, usually designated Alice, transmits single photons, or particles of light, encoding 0s and 1s to a recipient, “Bob.” The photons Bob receives and correctly measures make up the secret “key” that is used to decode a subsequent message. Because of the quantum rules, an eavesdropper, “Eve,” cannot listen in on the key transmission without being detected, but she could monitor a more traditional communication (such as a phone call) that must take place between Alice and Bob to complete their communication.
Modern telecommunications hardware easily allows Alice to transmit photons at rates much faster than any Internet connection. But at least 90 percent (and more commonly 99.9 percent) of the photons do not make it to Bob’s detectors, so that he receives only a small fraction of the photons sent by Alice. Alice can send more photons to Bob by cranking up the speed of her transmitter, but then, they’ll run into problems with the detector’s “dead time,” the period during which the detector needs to recover after it detects a photon. Commercially available single-photon detectors need about 50-100 nanoseconds to recover before they can detect another photon, much slower than the 1 nanosecond between photons in a 1-Ghz transmission.
Not only does dead time limit the transmission rate of a message, but it also raises security issues for systems that use different detectors for 0s and 1s. In that important “phone call,” Bob must report the time of each detection event. If he reports two detections occurring within the dead time of his detectors, then Eve can deduce that they could not have come from the same detector and correspond to opposite bit values.
Sure, Bob can choose not to report the second, closely spaced photon, but this further decreases the key production rate. And for the most secure type of encryption, known as a one-time pad, the key has to have as many bits of information as the message itself.
The speed limit would go up, says NIST physicist Joshua Bienfang, if researchers reduce the dead time in single-photon detectors, something that several groups are trying to do. According to Bienfang, higher speeds also would be useful for wireless cryptography between a ground station and a satellite in low-Earth orbit. Since the two only would be close enough to communicate for a small part of the day, it would be beneficial to send as much information as possible during a short time window.
Ben Stein | EurekAlert!
Hope to discover sure signs of life on Mars? New research says look for the element vanadium
22.09.2017 | University of Kansas
22.09.2017 | Forschungszentrum MATHEON ECMath
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy