We propose and experimentally demonstrate an approach to generate and distribute secret keys over optical fiber communication infrastructure. Mach-Zehnder interferometers (MZIs) are adopted for key generation by transferring the environmental noise to random optical signals. A novel combination of wideband optical noise and an asymmetric MZI structure enables the secret keys to be securely transmitted and exchanged over public fiber links without being detected. We experimentally demonstrate this system and show reliable performance: keys are generated at the rate of 502 bit/s, and are successfully exchanged between two parties over a 10 km optical fiber with a bit error of ∼ 0.3%. System security analysis is performed by corroborating our experimental findings with simulations. The results show that our system can protect the key distribution under different attacks, attributed to wideband optical noise and asymmetric MZI structures. Compared to the previous schemes based on distributed MZIs, our scheme exploits localized MZI which provides twofold advantages. Firstly, the key generation rate can be increased by a factor of 5.7 at a negligible additional cost. Secondly, the system becomes robust to, in particular, active intrusion attack. The proposed system is a reliable and cost-effective solution for key establishment, and is compatible with the existing optical fiber communication infrastructure.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics