Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) can greatly benefit from photonic integration, which enables implementing low-loss, alignment-free, and scalable photonic circuitry. At the same time, Superconducting Nanowire Single-Photon Detectors (SNSPD) are an ideal detector technology for QKD due to their high efficiency, low dark-count rate, and low jitter.
Researchers have developed a QKD receiver chip featuring the full photonic circuitry needed for different time-based protocols, including single-photon detectors.
By utilizing waveguide-integrated SNSPDs, they achieved low dead times together with low dark-count rates and demonstrate a QKD experiment at 2.6 GHz clock rate, yielding secret-key rates of 2.5 Mbit/s for low channel attenuations of 2.5 dB without detector saturation.
Due to the broadband 3D polymer couplers the receiver chip can be operated at a wide wavelength range in the telecom band, thus paving the way for highly parallelized wavelength-division multiplexing implementations.
The paper has been published in npj quantum information.