Quantum communication networks rely on single photons to transmit data. However, the distance that single photons can travel is limited by the inherent insertion losses of existing networks. To realise a quantum communication network at a national scale, it will be necessary to integrate a variety of high-quality novel fibres and interconnects to relay photons over long distances.
NPL has the capability to provide direct support and quality assurance. This is of interest to those working in quantum key distribution (QKD) or developing components such as quantum grade patch cords, novel fibre, or quantum photonic integrated circuits (QPICs) as well as providing measurement capability for few photons metrology.
To characterise photonic components on a QKD test link, NPL has developed a Variable Launch System (VLS) that controls the Numerical Aperture (NA) and spot size of the input source to fully interpret the output of the component or fibre under test at specified wavelengths. In addition to characterising insertion loss of quantum-grade components and connectors, NPL is well-placed to characterise other key parameters that impact network efficiency, such as mode field diameter, effective area, and fibre geometry.
Existing, well-established optical fibre services already offer low best measurement capabilities (BMC), which will provide direct traceability to quantum grade fibre/patchcord manufacturers and installers. This will help to support the successful deployment of a quantum network infrastructure capable of enabling maximum quantum efficiency and entanglement distribution.
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