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Optimization of continuous variables quantum key distribution using discrete modulation

Pereira, D. ; Silva, N. A. ; Almeida, M. ; Pinto, A. N.

Optimization of continuous variables quantum key distribution using discrete modulation, Proc SPIE Sensors + Imaging, Berlin, Germany, Vol. , pp. - , September, 2022.

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Continuous Variables Quantum Key Distribution (CV-QKD) tackles the problem of the generation and distribution of symmetric cryptographic keys without assuming any computational limitations while employing standard telecom equipment. Gaussian Modulation (GM) theoretically maximizes the information a CV-QKD system is capable of transmitting while exhibiting a higher resistance to excess channel noise. However, GM-CV-QKD protocols have historically exhibited low reconciliation efficiency, put an extreme burden on the transmitter’s random number source and tend to be more susceptible to imperfect state preparation. Due to these difficulties, most experimental implementations of CV-QKD have used Discrete Modulation (DM). The closer the DM constellation approaches a GM one, the closer the theoretical performance of the associated system will be to the optimum value. To achieve this, high-cardinality constellations, coupled with probabilistic shaping, can be explored. However, choosing a too complex constellation will cause the modulation stage imperfections to again become apparent. Thus, the choice of the constellation format is not direct and of high importance. In this work we present a methodology to determine the optimum constellation for a given DM-CV-QKD system, taking into account the limitations of the modulation stage, choosing from a variety of M-QAM and M-APSK constellations coupled with probabilistic shaping. We validate our methodology experimentally by using it in our CV-QKD system, which uses only accessible, telecom-grade material in its modulation stage, and is coupled with a polarization diverse, true heterodyne receiver architecture. Our obtained methodology will allow for the optimum modulation format for each specific system to be selected.