Abstract

Quantum key distribution (QKD) is a technology that allows two users to exchange cryptographic keys securely. The decoy state technique enhances the technology, ensuring keys can be shared at high bit rates over long distances with information theoretic security. However, imperfections in the implementation, known as side-channels, threaten the perfect security of practical QKD protocols. Intensity modulators are required for high-rate decoy-state QKD systems, although these are unstable and can display a side channel where the intensity of a pulse is dependent on the previous pulse. Here we demonstrate the superior practicality of a tunable extinction ratio Sagnac-based intensity modulator (IM) for practical QKD systems. The ability to select low extinction ratios, alongside the immunity of Sagnac interferometers to DC drifts, ensures that random decoy state QKD patterns can be faithfully reproduced with the patterning effects mitigated. The inherent stability of Sagnac interferometers also ensures that the modulator output does not wander over time.

© 2018 Optical Society of America

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