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Accelerating broadcasting and highly secure communications

The quantum features and behaviour of single-photon sources, devices and detectors are described using various parameters. These are not always directly derived from conventional units of the SI system in the same way as quantities such as acceleration, resistance or power. The quantum-optical metrics we use reflect the utility of these devices for quantum photonics applications. For example, quantum key distribution (QKD) and quantum random number generators (QRNGs) have matured to the point where commercial products are now available.

We have developed a suite of measurement capabilities to characterise single-photon sources and detectors, as well as components used in specific implementations of QKD. We are now expanding these facilities to provide measurements for the security assurance of QKD systems, and the randomness of QRNG outputs.

NPL is a member of the European Telecommunications Standards Institut (ETSI) industry standards group on QKD, which is working to develop documented standards for QKD. We also work with the National Cyber Security Centre to develop a UK assurance process for QRNG and QKD technology. We are a partner in the UK Quantum Communications Hub, and we collaborate with BT, ID Quantique, Toshiba Research Europe Ltd, other national metrology institutes in Europe, and the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Surrey and York.

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