Photonic entanglement is a fundamental resource in quantum information processing and its distribution between distant parties is a key challenge in quantum communications. Optical satellite links allow transmitting entangled photons over longer distances than currently possible on ground and could provide a path towards global quantum communication networks. The majority of current photonic free-space quantum communication systems, including two recent quantum satellite experiments, use two-dimensional polarization encoding, where each photon can carry at most a single bit of quantum information. Encoding additional qubits in the high-dimensional spatio-temporal degrees of freedom could not only increase channel capacities but also improve robustness with respect to noise and eavesdropping in quantum cryptography.
Here, we give an overview of our efforts towards exploiting high-dimensional entanglement in long-distance free-space quantum communications. We report on the results of a first feasibility study, in which we used polarization / energy-time hyperentanglement to increase the dimensionality of the state space and transmit genuine 4-dimensional entanglement via an intra-city free-space link. We discuss how we intend to extend this approach to applications in noise-tolerant large-alphabet quantum key distribution via free-space links, and, ultimately, experiments with satellites.
Fabian Steinlechner, "Towards high-dimensional quantum communication in space (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10547, Advances in Photonics of Quantum Computing, Memory, and Communication XI, 105470A (Presented at SPIE OPTO: January 30, 2018; Published: 14 March 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2292554.5751547229001.
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