Quantum Key Distribution Receiver

Project Brief

As part of an Innovate UK collaboration, Wideblue worked with a group of leading UK Universities and industrial partners to take a technical lead in the development of an optical ground receiver (OGR) station which tracks and communicates with orbiting satellites. The systems use two-way laser communication at a single photon level to facilitate a secure Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) network. This concept uses quantum theory, where the detection of a single photon “kills” that photon, making the system immune from eavesdropping by an unwanted third party.

Our Approach:

Wideblue worked closely with all collaboration participants to develop and integrate the hardware required to create the OGR.

Wideblue was responsible for:

  • Evaluating system requirements
  • Optical design, simulation, and tests of full OGR system to enable single photon detection.
  • Optical and mechanical design of tracking telescope
  • Electronics design and testing of power management systems
  • Mechanical design of QKD detection and classical communications modules
  • Full design of component test systems
  • Embedded firmware and software development for user interface
  • Statistical analysis of design through Gauge R&R study

Our Solution:

This is a particularly detailed design that integrates many technical disciplines into experimentally proving elements of quantum physics. The initial prototype of the OGR was successfully tested with the collaboration partners to prove it was able to communicate over an extended distance with a single photon source, with a detection efficiency that provided high confidence in the design.

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