Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) is a technology that exploits a fundamental principle of quantum physics – observation causes perturbation – to exchange cryptographic keys over optical fibre networks with provable security.
QKD is one element in a complete cryptographic system. It includes both key exchange and encryption, which can ensure quantum-safe security, i.e. a guarantee that encrypted messages will remain confidential against the power of a quantum computer. Although the design and realisation of a multi-purpose quantum computer, which will be able to break existing public-key cryptography, remains a challenge, progress in this field is driving demand for quantum-safe encryption methods. The era of post-quantum cryptography has begun, where cryptographic methods must be resilient to a quantum computer
The study of QKD has therefore acquired a new sense of urgency: it is simply not possible to wait until the arrival of the quantum computer to design and test suitable cryptographic methods.
The Clavis3 Quantum Key Distribution Platform – clavis is the Latin word for key – was developed by ID Quantique to serve as a versatile research tool for both academic and industrial applications
The Clavis3 was designed as a research platform, with both automated and manual operations. The user can therefore experiment with different parameters and study various setups. In addition, the Clavis3 receiver, the Clavis3-B, can use external single-photon detectors, which can be provided either by ID Quantique, or by the end-user himself.
Secure key exchange is possible over distances of up to one hundred kilometers, as well as over standard telecom networks with WDM. The optical platform is well documented in scientific publications and has been extensively tested and characterised.
A comprehensive software suite implements automated hardware operation and complete key distillation. The secret keys provided by Clavis3 can be fed in various encryption systems.