High-dimensional encoding using higher degrees of freedom has become topical in quantum communication protocols. When taking advantage of entanglement correlations, the state space can be made even larger. Here, we exploit the entanglement between two dimensional space and polarization qubits, to realize a four-dimensional quantum key distribution protocol. This is achieved by using entangled states as a basis, analogous to the Bell basis, rather than typically encoding information on individual qubits. The encoding and decoding in the required complementary bases is achieved by manipulating the Pancharatnam-Berry phase with a single optical element: a q-plate. Our scheme shows a transmission fidelity of 0.98 and secret key rate of 0.9 bits per photon. While the use of only static elements is preferable, we show that the low secret key rate is a consequence of the filter based detection of the modes, rather than our choice of encoding modes.
B. Ndagano, I. Nape, B. Perez-Garcia, S. Scholes, R. I. Hernandez-Aranda, F. S. Roux, T. Konrad, and A. Forbes, "Quantum-key distribution with vector modes," Proc. SPIE 10120, Complex Light and Optical Forces XI, 101200X (Presented at SPIE OPTO: February 02, 2017; Published: 27 February 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2251465.
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