Developing Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) has been recently directed toward distance extension and network expansion for real-world secure communications. Considering a recent report on a quantum communication network over 4,600 km, it seems that QKD networks using conventional protocols have been sufficiently studied.
However, although the twin-field QKD (TF-QKD) proposed for long-distance QKD has been studied deeply enough to succeed the demonstrations over 428- and 511-km deployed fibers, TF-QKD networks have been verified only for a ring network.
In this work, scientists propose a star topological 2 × NTF-QKD network scheme, where the coherence maintenance issue, being the primary obstacle to implementing TF-QKD, can be minimized by the automatic mode-matching feature of the Sagnac-based plug-and-play architecture. A lower number of active controllers is required for this scheme in comparison with one-way TF-QKD networks.
Moreover, this scheme adopts a cost-effective configuration that requires only a single pair of single-photon detectors for the entire network system.
The team conducted a proof-of-concept experiment over a 50-km fiber successfully, achieving an average secret key rate of 1.31 × 10−4 bit per pulse (1.52 bit per second) with the finite-size effect.
The work has been published in npj Quantum Information.